Several faculty, staff and students went on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Morris University Center rooftop outside Fixins’ Restaurant, but it was not to lift their spirits or seek sunrays. The crew began planting vegetables in SIUE’s Rooftop Teaching Garden on Earth Day, Monday, April 22, in hopes of supplying produce for the University’s food sustainability consortium.
The planting session was one of several environmentally centered activities held Monday, with others scheduled throughout this week.
“This is our first planting day,” said Jessica DeSpain, PhD, associate professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, president of the Goshen Market Foundation, and part of the Food Consortium, funded in part by an Excellence in Undergraduate Education grant this year. “We planted carrots, beets, collards, kale, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini and bok choy. The food will be given to the Beet Box, which services food insecure areas, the Goshen Market and the Cougar Cupboard.”
The Rooftop Garden was first devised several years ago by Bill Retzlaff, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean, according to DeSpain.
“The Rooftop Garden will not only help with food sustainability, but will also serve as a teaching tool,” said DeSpain. “It’s gotten to the point where there is not much agriculture curriculum in schools. Many of my food sustainability and literature students had not planted a seed or understood that tomatoes grow on vines. The Rooftop Teaching Garden is also a good way to explore urban agriculture. As we lose more agriculture ground and suburbs expand, there are fewer places to grow things.”
“Gardening helps make a connection with what you’re eating, and where it’s coming from,” said Allysa Conroy, a senior nutrition major.
“Being able to garden shows you don’t have to solely rely on others to get your food,” said Kenzie Krieger, a junior nutrition major.
“Planting season is from May-October, but the Food Consortium thought it would be good to kick off its season on Earth Day,” said Jennifer Zuercher, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition.
The EUE Food Consortium members include:
Other Earth Day events on Monday included “A Blessing for Our Planet” at the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability (The Dome).
A group of Earth supporters joined hands in a circle and offered a prayer that read in part, “Let us each care for this gift entrusted to us. Let us individually and collectively open ourselves to be worthy of this stewardship, as we joyfully shower unconditional love, compassion and care for our planet, which so wonderfully provides for us.”
The blessing was coordinated by the Rev. Annie Clark, of Shiloh, and Bill Anderson, of St. Louis, authors of Our Invisible World: Reflections on the Awesome, Loving Power of God Within Each of Us.
Other Earth Day activities include:
Helping to plant vegetables are Jennifer Zuercher, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition (right), and Allysa Conroy, a senior nutrition major.
A group of Earth enthusiasts gathered at The Dome to offer a prayer for the planet.