By: Mollie Lastovica
Just north of the Agriculture and Life Sciences Building, passersby will notice two raised garden beds, adequately adorned with vegetables and herbs. What looks like a small project has hopes of becoming the foundation for a community of agriculturalists on West campus.
The gardens were installed in spring 2012 by Professor Gary Briers, Ph.D., in conjunction with his Clinical Professional Experience in Agricultural Science class, AGSC 384.
“So much of what we do is the process part of leadership, education and communications,” Briers says. “Sometimes we as faculty and students forget the modifier that comes before our name—agricultural.”
When school started back in January 2012, he presented the project idea to his AGSC 384 students and the group began working on the gardens in February. Briers purchased five greenhouse starter kits and divided the class into four student teams and one instructor team.
“The idea of the student gardens was to take bedding plants to schools where they do observation as a token of appreciation to teachers, administrators and administrative assistants,” Briers says. “We were not really sure and the students even asked what we, the instructor team, were going to do with our plants.”
In deliberating on that question, Briers and his team decided that placing the beds outside of the AGLS building would not only bring the complex closer to its agricultural roots, but also, it would generate interest from all angles—students, staff, faculty and administration.
“We hope it will be a catalyst for other classes and departments in the building to do something similar that could lead to a critical mass of activity back there,” Briers says. “We want anyone to feel comfortable coming to the beds to help maintain them.”
His vision is for a community-type garden that will continue to expand as other classes, student organizations and departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are enticed, challenged or motivated to do something similar. For now, the beds have tomato, pepper, basil, cabbage and Brussels sprouts planted. Briers will replant the gardens with fall producing plants when students begin AGSC 384 in the fall. He encourages any and all to assist with the maintenance and to feel comfortable spending time at the gardens.
“The gardens are a great way to keep agriculture in agricultural education,” Briers says.