A Lively Sanctuary for Athens’ Community

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Spring has officially sprung and the fruits and vegetables are ready to sprout. Gardens are ready to be tended and that is what some Ohio University students will be doing within the next few weeks.

Sprouts of leaf lettuce beginning to grow.

Associate Professor of Plant Biology, Arthur Trese has a second home hidden behind the Ohio Innovation Center. He shares this home with his students who dedicate their time to helping him maintain the Ohio Student Garden.

“This is so much more than a garden. This is a place where students can learn how to have fresh produce at the palm of their hand,” Trese smiled.

The Ohio Student Garden is a lively place but also an educational experience. The students in the class learn how to prepare the soil and harvest a variety of crops in their own plots.

The entrance to the Ohio Student Garden.

The garden has gone through multiple transformations since it started in the 1970s. The class was only offered in the spring which was another change.

“This class can be taken in the fall, spring, and summer semester sessions now. That’s something that I know students find extremely useful, we get to let students experience this all year-round,” Trese said.

Not only does that teach invaluable lessons to the students but it also gives those same students opportunities to give back to their community.

“We partnered with Food Studies, which is where the idea of donating food and giving it different purposes came about,” Trese said.

Theresa Moran, Director of Food Studies at Ohio University, helped decide to sell and donate food grown in the garden.

Once the crops were ready to harvest, sales would start on Fridays and continue every Friday for the rest of the season.

“Anyone is welcome to purchase. We sell all kinds of crops including strawberries and blueberries. We have the best strawberries in town,” Moran said.

The Ohio Student Garden has also made a partnership with Jefferson Marketplace.

“So you can go there and we have a big, ‘Know Your Farmer Productions’ section so you can see photos of the students and a little bit about their background as you purchase their produce,” Moran said.

The partnership between Food Studies and the Ohio Student Garden are also in the works to create another way for people to buy their produce. The farm is planning on selling their crops on Court Street to sell to Athens county employees.

“This is part of the County of Athens Sustainability Plan, so we’re helping the County of Athens meet their wellness goals,” Moran said.

For Moran and Trese, the student aspect of the farm is what makes the operation so unique.

Student plots being prepared for growing season.

“Just having students work there and being able to train students to show them what needs to be done, and the challenges of growing food and also the pleasures and joys of growing food,” Trese said.

“The Ohio student farm gives students an opportunity to really understand where their food comes from; to actually get their hands in the soil,” Moran said. “It’s also to look at the interdisciplinarity of food and where it comes from and how it fits into our whole ecosystem.”