Grand Valley’s campus offers a number of interesting experiences during the summer, not the least of which is learning. But if you want to do something quieter or more relaxing than studying, swimming, or socializing, why not try your hand at growing something.
In 2008 GVSU began a community garden with 30 plots for aspiring gardeners to get their hands dirty and grow some vegetables in. A group of students, faculty, and staff wanted to explore options for greater campus sustainability, and this has resulted in the current much larger Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) which offers students different opportunities including internships, courses, volunteering, and the Farm Club. Grand Valley students have also pioneered a community garden in Muskegon.
Community gardens have become much more a part of local life in the past several decades. Scattered throughout West Michigan these initiatives are encouraging people to reconnect with both nature and their own food supply. Community gardens are a great place to burn off some energy, get to know other gardening enthusiasts, and learn firsthand about the circle of life. People who garden also tend to expand their food repertoire as they become familiar with vegetables they’ve never tried (or even known about) before.
It’s already July, so planting vegetables with long growing cycles – like peppers and tomatoes – is not an option, but it’s still possible to start plenty of vegetable varieties. Stores will soon start discounting plants and seeds to move them, so it’s even less expensive to try mid-season. You can even “check” out seed varieties through Kent District Library’s seed catalog for free.
Herbs are often a good place to start for a novice gardener because they are easy to grow and will often thrive even in poor soil and indirect sunlight. They are expensive to buy, but they add so much flavor to ordinary cooking, so growing them (for less) is doubly rewarding. Most herbs will grow in containers on patios or in a sunny window, so they are accessible to apartment dwellers with no access to a plot of land or even a community garden. It’s fun to watch basil sprout and grow and then grow again as it is cut back and used, and it tastes so good, so summery, in pastas, sandwiches, or salads. Other great herbs to try your hand at growing include rosemary, thyme, dill, oregano, and sage. Peppermint and lemon balm make great teas, cold in the summertime and hot in winter.
If you have a green thumb, there are plenty of ways to exercise it it even living in an apartment or on campus at Grand Valley. Sustainable living is something we at Meadows Crossing encourage and support.