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    Photo Dan Roche

    August 24, 2021

    Community Garden Celebrates Our Common Home: The Earth

    For Jason Luscier, Ph.D., there are few things more Ignatian than a community garden. It connects people to the earth, provides nourishment, and engages with and serves the community. An associate professor of biological sciences, Luscier is eager to use Le Moyne’s new community garden, which was established this summer behind Saint Mary’s Hall, in the General Ecology course he is teaching this fall as part of a segment on food ecology. Luscier’s students will spend several days visiting and engaging with the garden, and he hopes that it will serve as a way for them to “gain a deeper understanding of where food comes and connect with nature.”


    And that is just the start. 


    Luscier also plans to develop a class that would specifically connect students to the garden for an entire semester, immersing them in all aspects of it, from growing seedlings in late winter through harvesting crops in the fall. He’d also like to have students engage with other community gardens and food banks in the area to develop a deeper understanding of food insecurity in the Greater Syracuse area and the role community gardening can play in serving the community. His colleague, Associate Professor of Biology Hilary McManus, Ph.D., also plans to utilize the garden in her Botany and Environmental Issues classes, demonstrating how people can reconnect with nature and nurture biodiversity while growing their own food. 


    The idea of creating a community garden was born during a sustainability-themed retreat, which included dozens of members of the Le Moyne community. After trading a range of ideas on how best to improve the College’s environmental footprint, the participants zeroed on the establishment of a garden as one that was not only impactful, but educational. With the aid of professionals from the College’s Physical Plant, they then began scouting possible locations and, after deciding on the area behind Saint Mary’s, began building the raised beds and erecting a fence before finding themselves up to their elbows in soil and mulch. The result? A 700-square-foot garden with more than 200 square feet for planting. It will be divided up into smaller 3-by-4 or 3-by-6 plots that are available for adoption by members of the Le Moyne community, with the goal of opening the garden to the wider community in the future, explained Dan Roche, associate professor of communications, who helped design the garden. 


    “There are so many students who don’t know much about gardening or where their food comes from and this will be a vivid way for them to get their hands dirty – weeding, picking vegetables and preparing the food,” Roche said. “The garden is meant to address big philosophical concerns about care for the environment on a much more practical level. It could be students going out there and diving into concepts for a natural science class or sociology class, or using the space to inspire their work in a creative writing or photography class. The possibilities are endless.”  


    Brooke Merrifield, associate director for annual giving, who assisted in the creation of the garden, echoed those sentiments, noting that it calls to mind what Pope Francis expressed in his environmental encyclical, Laudato si'.


    “For me and a lot of other people it’s about reconnecting with the Earth and doing the work to turn the tide in a positive direction for this wonderful place that we call home,” she said.