Biola University’s organic garden, dedicated by the university to the biological sciences department in January of 2009, has generated multiple environmentally friendly changes on campus since it’s birth. Educating students in gardening and local ecology is a snapshot of a bigger picture — one challenging and inspiring Biola’s community to move toward environmentally responsible actions as well as ministering to the local community one seed at a time.
A gardener from a young age, Biola professor of Biological Sciences Jason Tresser, proposed a campus garden soon after he came to Biola two years ago as a new professor. In May of 2009, students with the guidance of Tresser measured the plot of land, assessed plant life and took soil samples which they analyzed themselves in Biola’s lab.
“I’ve always been a gardener and this is a good opportunity for students, even if they just want to do it for fun,” said Tresser.
From the beginning, the garden has incorporated the ideas of reusing and recycling. The garden uses Biola’s own waste, such as fallen leaves and greenery that Biola’s grounds crew collects, and leftover green waste from the cafeteria, such as orange peels, for compost. This method is a cost-benefit for the university, saving waste from needing to be trucked off to a land-fill, and provides free compost for the soil. Tresser encourages the use of natural resources such as this form of compost.
“Why do something artificially when you can do it how it was created in God’s order and not at the expense of other organisms,” he said.
The garden provides a learning ground for an in-depth look at how you eat affects the world around you.
“In an urban area it’s easy to forget where their food comes from and where their waste goes,” said Tresser. “Gardening and farming sustainably with a minimal effect on local ecology…growing things in natural harmony with local ecology is important.”
The approximately 1/7 of an acre plot of land sits at the far end of campus near Sigma Chi residence hall and is barely noticed except for a few colorful snap dragons that catch your eye from the bottom of the small hill leading to the garden. However, once on the plateau where the garden sits, its apparent Biola has its own small farm of vegetables and fruits — most of which have just begun to germinate for spring.
Currently, an herb garden is growing abundantly next to the small sprouts soon to be a wide variety of vegetables and fruits including onions, acorn squash, eggplant, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, watermelon and even edible marigolds.
Bon Appetit, Biola’s food service, donates time and ingredients to make the vegetables into baked goods, such as carrot cake and zucchini bread. The Caf also featured a dish with Biola’s organically grown spinach in the fall semester. Selling slices of the baked goods then turns a profit to sustain the garden. The purpose of the garden is much more than a learning tool and will soon benefit more than the student gardeners.
The entire Biola community will benefit from the garden as some of the produce will be donated to the Caf. However, as the garden grows and continues to produce more produce, Tresser hopes to partner with local food banks distributing some of Biola’s fresh veggies and fruits to those in need.
“We want this to be an educational tool for students, but a blessing to the Biola community and the La Mirada community,” said Tresser.
In honor of Earth Day, come to campus today, April 22, 2010, to purchase a “dirt cup” dessert from Biola’s environmental student club, The Granola Club, and receive your own seed with soil. Watch the plant germinate and return it in a few weeks to plant in the garden.
Join Biola’s Organic Garden on Facebook to stay updated with upcoming events and how you can support the garden.
Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.