Enactus StFX has been working hard to provide fresh produce to the Student Food Resource Center through a community garden project, located behind the West Street Apartments. According to the Enactus Canada website, Enactus is a community of student, academic, and business leaders who are using entrepreneurial action to create a better, more sustainable world. The garden project has been running since 2014, and has overcome some barriers this past summer with the expansion of the Lane Hall parking lot.
Project manager and co-president of Enactus StFX, Hannah Chisholm, has been working on the garden since she started at StFX. It started out as a project to add a greenhouse to the existing Student Food Resource Center garden. Chisholm says, “I knew there was a garden on campus, but I’d never actually seen it, and when I did see it, I was very disappointed.”
Chisholm also cites the difficulty for students to run a garden, as most leave town for the summer. The greenhouse consisted of a tent previously used for football games that was donated by the university, and plastic donated by Pleasant Valley Nurseries.
Last year, Chisholm received word that the parking lot behind Lane Hall would be expanded into the space where the garden was located. Facilities Management told Enactus that they would be removing the gardens, and provided neither consultation nor a contingency plan for an alternate location.
Chisholm credits her connection to her father, Paul Chisholm, the supervisor for Facilities Management, for saving the garden. He was able to find a new location for the gardens behind the West Street Apartments, and StFX paid to build new raised beds.
“My dad was really involved with it - he ordered the supplies, got everything built, and the results have been great,” Chisholm says. The supplies were high quality, and the new gardens use 8x8 pressure treated wood, which will last long into the future.
Chisholm also has connections working at Pleasant Valley Nurseries, which donated a large quantity of supplies. All of the plants were started from seed, using space in the biology greenhouse in J. Bruce Brown Hall, which allowed the plants to start early in the season.
The produce from the garden is donated to the Student Food Resource Center. The garden has grown approximately 300 pounds of food so far this year, and Chisholm, who is in her third year, hopes to continue to harvest from the garden until the December exam season.
Next year, she plans to take on a student apprentice, who she will train to take over the project. She is currently working on a manual on how to care for the garden: “I have a notebook where I write everything, when to start seeds, when to plant things, common diseases, when to harvest, when to put up the greenhouse. I call it ‘The Xaverian’s Guide to Gardening’.”
“We’re trying to get sustainability in all of our projects,” says Enactus StFX president, Maura Brennan. “We’re trying to get younger students involved so our projects can have longevity. A hot topic with Enactus worldwide is food security, so the garden project aligns really well with this mandate.” The biggest hurdle the garden project is facing right now is a lack of volunteers. “I feel like nobody knows what Enactus is, or what we do. Everybody that I tell is surprised, like ‘StFX has a garden? I didn’t know about this.’”
If you are interested in volunteering to help harvest and maintain the garden, contact Maura Brennan, President of Enactus StFX (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Hannah Chisholm, Vice President and Enactus Garden Project Manager (email@example.com).