It’s hard to miss it while walking alongside the corner of University Place and Summit Avenue—a vegetable garden thriving in the early fall air. Named “Lookout Garden,” the new garden is part of a much larger initiative across Augustana to promote sustainability and environmentally-conscious living.
The garden is just one outcome of a three-year, $375,000 grant gifted to Augustana in 2017 by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, a nonprofit that supports art, society and the environment.
The grant allowed Sodexo gardener Kam Hedeen to expand upon the smaller “Terrace Garden” next to the Huddle. The grant has also allowed for the formation of a sustainability team on campus, which helps plan other environmental projects in the works, such as an outdoor classroom.
“Working the land and growing our own food is a tradition as old as humanity, and it seems a shame to lose touch with that,” said Professor David O’Hara, director of the Sustainability Team and philosophy professor.
O’Hara said anyone who is interested in helping maintain the garden can contact Kam Hedeen, Augie Green or the Sustainability Team.
Not only can students help in the garden, but they can taste it, too.
“We are getting some good food from the garden, so if you’ve eaten a salad in the commons you have probably had some of the produce from the garden,” O’Hara said.
Manager of Sodexo Damian Lewis said the kitchen incorporates much of garden produce into its meals and salad bar.
“Fresh herbs that are coming out of the garden are used in cooking and our pasta dishes,” Lewis said. “Lettuce is being used in the salad bar, squash is being harvested and used in cooked dishes in the main line. Fresh tomatoes are put on tomato platters and in the cooked dishes as well as the salads. Different types of beans and peas will be used in stir fries and the salad bars.”
Student coordinator for the sustainability team Anna Steinwand said seeing campus-grown food in the cafeteria helps students think more about where their food comes from.
“It’s nice to see [produce in the cafeteria], because when students look at it, then they’ll wonder, ‘Okay, where is the rest of the food coming from?’ and then they’ll kind of think about it more,” Steinwand said.
Freshman Madeline Van Voorst said, “I think the garden that we have is awesome for a number of reasons, mainly because it gives students a chance to apply the science they learn in class and gives the school a chance to apply a healthy lifestyle.”
O’Hara quoted Aldo Leopold to explain the garden’s significance.
“In his “Sand County Almanac,” Aldo Leopold, said, ‘There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is that you think your heat comes from the furnace, and the other is that you think your food comes from the grocery store,’” O’Hara said.
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