CMU’s Campus Grow celebrates fifth season of growth, donates produce to community groups

Campus Grow

Campus Grow, Central Michigan University’s student-run garden, recently concluded its fifth season of growing organic produce on campus and donating a portion of the food to community organizations. The group will celebrate at the second annual Harvest Party on Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. in the Campus Grow Garden, located next to Theunissen Stadium. The celebration includes music, a potluck dinner and garden cleanup.

The student organization started in 2008 and has expanded significantly, renting out 60 plots this year to students, faculty, staff and community members.

“We had a really good growing season at the garden,” said Patti Travioli, Campus Grow adviser and CMU Fabiano Botanical Garden director. “All the plots were rented, and everyone was eager to participate.”  

Campus Grow partners with Plant a Row for Hunger, the national initiative sponsored by the Garden Writers Association aimed at growing food and donating it to those in need. Campus Grow dedicates several garden plots to the program. This year crops were donated to the Isabella County Commission on Aging and the Community Food Pantry.

“We’ve made weekly donations to our partner organizations,” said Travioli. “We harvest what we have and share the produce with them. They’re always happy to see us.”

To Waterford Township senior Jackie Maggioncalda, Campus Grow Garden coordinator and community health education and political science major, the garden is about more than just growing vegetables.

“It provides students with a unique opportunity to learn about growing and cultivating food,” said Maggioncalda.

It has helped Maggioncalda solidify her interest in pursuing a degree in community health and has allowed her to apply what she has learned in classes to the organization.

“I took a class on grant writing and wrote an actual grant request for Campus Grow,” said Maggioncalda. “This helps us learn inside and outside the classroom.”

Although growing season is reaching its end, Campus Grow’s work is not done. The group is active year-round hosting educational events on campus about sustainable living, and in January they begin planting starter seeds in CMU’s greenhouse for next year’s garden.

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