When alumna, then-student Asper McCown and staff members Sidney Sullivan and Helen Scott launched the official Student Government Association (SGA) Community Garden Club in the spring of 2017, they had big dreams for a green and budding garden at Truckee Meadows Community College.
Sullivan and Scott are co-advisors for the Community Garden Club.
The first small garden that the club nurtured was in a potted plant box located near the Welcome Center in the V. James Eardley Student Center. The plants came up fast, and soon outgrew their containers.
“For the first Student Center garden, the plantings were given away because they got to the point where they needed to be transplanted outdoors,” Sullivan said.
Garden Building Moves Outdoors
The Community Garden Club needed a boost to help them make their dream to grow produce a reality, and this year they received just the nudge they needed.
“Truckee Tahoe Lumber Company donated all of the lumber for raised garden beds,” Scott said.
So the Community Garden Club expanded their horizons to what they had been thinking about all along, a large outdoor garden shared by the TMCC community.
“We received a $1,500 Faculty and Staff Innovation grant from the TMCC Foundation that we used for the fencing, the dirt, the hardware, and the chicken-wire cages to protect the seeds,” Sullivan said. “The birds can fly right over the fence and dig the seeds out, so the cages are needed to keep the seeds planted.”
There were three building days on April 6, 13, and 20. For the work sessions, Facilities Operations and Capital Planning members volunteered to loan equipment, and help the students learn how to use drills and other tools for building the raised beds.
A hardy core group of about eight to ten students have mighty green thumbs.
“They’ve been able to make most of our building days, even in blustery weather,” Sullivan said. “A couple of TMCC staff members have come and helped at each of the three building days, too.”
There are nine raised beds in the Student Community Gardens, located on the Dandini Campus, next to the wind energy turbines south of the Sierra Building. Eight of the beds are three feet by eight feet. One bed is six feet by six feet in size.
In addition to vegetables, they are also planting flowers.
“We’d like to make it a nice place to hang out,” Sullivan said.
The planning and planting day was held on Saturday, April 28. Club elections for the 2018–2019 academic year took place on that day, as well.
“Sixteen students helped on that day, including many Nevada Promise Scholar volunteers,” Sullivan said.
The Future is Green
Going forward, the students and their advisors are not expecting the grounds crew to complete any chores relating to the large garden. Staff and students of the TMCC community have volunteered to help with upkeep.
A drip system and timer will also help in maintaining the garden.
“There are no chores assigned to Facilities, or grounds-keeping staff members,” Scott said.
Sullivan expresses much appreciation for the expert support the club has received.
“Dave Murray and his staff have just been awesome,” Sullivan said. “They’ve been helping us with safety, and knowing what is feasible. Dave Murray even helped us with a couple of trips purchasing supplies. He’s helped provide the tools like drills, and supported us by teaching us how to use them.”
Produce grown in the garden will be shared with the college community.
“We found out from the Food Bank of Northern Nevada that we have permission to donate some of the produce to Wizard’s Warehouse,” Sullivan said. “We just need to ask students to remember to wash them.”
In the future, the club’s goals are to keep up the garden, host events such as a canning demonstration that they held last year, to gather for garden upkeep days, guest lecturers, and field trips to greenhouses in the region.
In addition to learning more about plants and growing food, there are added benefits for students.
“There are lots of good connections being made between faculty and students with information being shared about classes and academic paths,” Sullivan said. “And there are also connections made between students, where they tell each other about where to get support for coursework. These networks are good for student retention, as well.”
For more information about the SGA Community Garden Club garden, please contact Helen Scott in New Student Services at 775-673-7252.