UMW students garden for charity on william street
By: SARA MARRON
A short walk from Campus, on Winchester Street in downtown Fredericksburg, a small plot of land has been transformed from an unused, forgotten corner into the Fredericksburg Community Garden.
Sophomores Karl Gergel, Colleen Brooke, and Evan McLaughlin have played an integral role in the development of the garden.
The idea manifested years ago by members of the Students for a Democratic Society Club, and has now become a reality.
“People in the club saw the plot of land 4-5 years ago and had always wanted to do something with it,” Gergel said.
On Thursdays at 3 p.m., students like Gergel, Brooke, and McLaughlin meet at the Bell tower and walk down to Winchester Street to work on the garden.
Gergel, who participated in the founding of the garden, which began February 15, and has spent time over the summer improving it.
“As long as we’re here on campus, I want to be a part of it. We’re trying to take steps to make it last,” Gergel said.
Brooke also helped to cultivate the garden this summer. So far, the plot has yielded a small crop of peas, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, and carrots.
“I was there since the beginning,” Brooke said. “I think it will help teach people that you don’t have to go to the grocery store to buy food. Your backyard can be your own grocery store.”
The garden is self-sufficient; relying on donations of seeds, tools, and the time of committed students and community members.
“Almost all of the seeds, plants, and tools were donated,” Gergel said. “I bought a shovel, that was it.”
Initially, only those who attended it primarily enjoyed the food. However, the produce grown in the garden is now being donated to a chapter of Food Not Bombs that was recently started in Fredericksburg. Food Not Bombs is a charity organization that takes donations and surplus food from grocery stores in order to provide free meals for the poor.
“We wanted to do something to contribute to the community,” McLaughlin said.
Emphasizing sustainability and environmental awareness, Brooke encourages the involvement of students in the project as a way to relieve stress or tension.
“The goals for me are to bring an appreciation to the time and energy it takes to grow things,” Brooke said. “We also want to make it a space for people to come and relax or read; a safe haven of sorts.”
The garden is taken care of by Mary Washington students, as well as Fredericksburg community members. McLaughlin extends the invitation that anyone who wants to participate in the project is welcomed.
“We’ll take anyone that wants to help,” McLaughlin said. “We’re going to need a lot of people to help clean it up.”
The garden is a burgeoning project, fueled by the effort of a few committed students who encourage all students to get involved.
“It starts with an appreciation of the earth, as well as not being afraid of what’s going to happen,” Brooke said. “Do what you can.”