Carolina Community Farm & Garden harvests sustainability, fellowship and fresh produce

IMG_6529 by Whitney Smith

When you venture over to the Green Quad, you’ll find more than just a residence hall. The Carolina Community Farm and Garden, located behind the living community, is also home to hundreds of plants, including fresh fruits and vegetables like kale and peaches.

About the Farm & Garden

The CCFG, started in 2007, was the first community garden at the University of South Carolina. There are four others now, including those at at the Strom Thurmond Wellness & Fitness Center and the Preston Green. The CCFG is unique in that in addition to tending raised beds, gardeners can come together and plant in communal plots. Green Quad Community Garden Manager Seth Guest said, “The CCFG is based on permaculture practices and principles of ecology, including water conservation and making our own fertilizer.”

It also incorporates practices such as composting and vermicomposting (composting using worms- CCFG uses red wigglers). Permaculture involves using ecological and environmental design to develop a regenerative and self-maintained agricultural system to mirror natural ecosystems.

Service learning and volunteering at the CCFG

CCFG is always looking for students, faculty and staff to help out and to experiment with different crops and growing techniques. Volunteers are able to take some of the food they grow and enjoy the (literal) fruits of their labor. CCFG has partnered with various departments of the university and community organizations to provide students with a hands-on component for their studies. Students who choose to participate in a service-learning course are able to use the garden as a way to engage and learn about food systems, environmental studies and even business.

The garden tacked on ‘farm’ to its name to demonstrate its recent venture into selling fresh produce and plants at the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market. Students and the community are now able to affordably try fresh and sustainable produce planted at CCFG.

Starting your own garden

Guest recommends starting out small if you are interested in cultivating a garden of your own. Guest said, “Start with a couple of crops and begin researching those in-depth to learn about how to successfully harvest them.”

Some low-maintenance crops like okra are good options when deciding what to put in your garden. Also choosing perennials, crops that live for more than two years, will allow you to sustain your garden without being ecologically harmful. Perennials include fruits and vegetables like figs, apples and asparagus. Guest also suggests composting in your garden. Not only is it low-cost, it is also good fertilizer. He recommends using food scraps as well as dried leaves, wood chips or other sturdy natural materials.

If you want to grow with CCFG or see their volunteer hours, workshops and special events, go to the Sustainable Carolina website. If you have any questions, want to maintain a box garden, or would like to compost, contact Seth Guest at guestsi@mailbox.sc.edu.

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