Atlanta, GA

Emory community small-scale food supply from the campus garden

Andrew Alvarez

ATLANTA, GA - Eight little community gardens tucked into different parts of Emory's Atlanta campus are filled with vegetables, herbs, and flowers. These unassuming parcels are home to the Emory Educational Garden Project, a project run by the Office of Sustainability Initiatives or OSI.

They aim to make small-scale food supply more approachable to the Emory community while also spreading awareness about food-related concerns.

The gardens are managed by Erik Edwards, the gardens project manager and research greenhouse supervisor, but volunteers are essential to the gardens.

Each year, about 100 people help out with the gardens. It serves as a gathering place for students, faculty, and staff to interact and connect over a common interest in horticulture, food production, and sustainability.

The Educational Gardens produces a broad variety of foods, with Edwards emphasizing the cultivation of rare and heirloom kinds. Collards, okra, and peanuts are among the native or traditional plants featured in the gardens, which pay homage to the region's history.

Edwards explains how to manage these areas effectively by cooperating with the environment rather than against it. The gardens' daily operations include sustainable food-producing procedures. Scraps and plant clippings, for instance, are turned into compost and placed into the garden beds. This improves soil quality while also educating volunteers on the advantages of removing biodegradable waste from landfills.

All plants in the Educational Gardens are cultivated naturally from seeds in the research greenhouse. When it’s time, volunteers plant the crop starters and nurture them by mulching, weeding, and harvesting.

The majority of the vegetables cultivated in the gardens are taken home by volunteers, who enjoy the results of their labor. Extra harvests are donated to nearby food banks or local food banks, ensuring that no food is wasted.

For the garden updates, email here to join the Educational Gardens listserv.

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