In Class News

September 21, 2017 at 10:24 am

Students Have Productive Summer in Learning Gardens

Dr. Art Trese

Dr. Art Trese

Dr. Art Trese can’t walk through the Plant Biology Learning Gardens without finding some weed that needs pulling, a sprinkler that needs repositioning, or a little scrap for the compost pile.

“Working around the garden makes me happy,” said Trese, Associate Professor of Environmental & Plant Biology. “I really enjoy getting better at it every year, make it look a little better, function a little better.”

The Plant Biology Learning Gardens, located near the West Side Community Gardens, serves as a research, teaching, and hub for students and faculty who share Trese’s love of toiling in the soil. This past summer, the gardens yielded potatoes, onions, beans, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and strawberries, all of which were made available to the public through two markets a week through the Food Studies theme.

Trese was aided by three Food Studies interns and a graduate student assistant garden manager last summer. All took on the challenge of picking, cleaning, and packaging the produce before taking it to the market.  This fall, he is joined by two work study students, and graduate student Kelsey Bryant, continues as assistant garden manager.

Students in PBIO 2060 tending garden plots

Students in PBIO 2060 tend their garden plots.

“Working as the PBIO Garden GA has been extremely educational and rewarding,” Bryant said. “I have learned so much about growing and harvesting food in a sustainable way. Just this year alone we have donated dozens of pounds of food to the Timothy House and the Athens Community Food Initiative.”

Trese agrees that the benefits reaped from the garden is worth the work.

“The garden is a great deal of work to weed and maintain and is sometimes difficult to staff, but with the students I do have, it has overall gotten more manageable,” Trese said. “We are working at finding a balance between what we can produce and what our market will be.”

Trese demonstrates for students in PBIO 2060 class.

Trese demonstrates for students in PBIO 2060 class.

Trese also teaches PBIO 2060 (Sustainable Agriculture) each academic semester and during the summer in the gardens, where students learn to grow organically, prepare compost and testing soils, harvest crops, and save seeds. Additionally, about 10 percent of the space is used by research projects that need more space or cannot be conducted indoors. Recent projects have been on a variety of topics such as plant ecology, insect-plant interactions, medicinal herbs, and crop physiology.

Community members who may have an interest in the gardens are encouraged to attend the Food Studies produce sales from 1-4 p.m. every Wednesday until Thanksgiving outside of Grover Center’s Atrium Café, and every Friday at the gardens between 4:30 and 6 p.m., and to also consider starting a personal plot in the nearby West Side Community Gardens.

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