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Seattle University


Faculty and staff get earthy

Written by Mike Thee
April 20, 2010

Some members of the SU community are celebrating Earth Day in the most literal of senses: by digging their hands into the soil and harnessing the planet’s life-giving powers.  

The Grounds Department has refurbished a series of planting beds in the Chardin garden and invited faculty, staff and students to use them to grow their own vegetables. About a dozen signed up and many already have gotten going. 

On Earth Day, which happens to be the 40th anniversary of this worldwide event, Grounds is hosting a host a kickoff event to highlight the new vegetable garden. The celebration will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Come by and see what your colleagues are growing. There will also be information about vegetable gardening, free vegetable starts and a worm bin demonstration. (Visit Earth Day for a list of events and other activities taking place at SU this week.)

Gardener Janice Murphy says the vegetable garden was spearheaded a couple years ago by Patrick Rossman, residence hall director for Chardin, as a place for students to grow some food. The idea caught on and Grounds decided to refurbish the beds and extend the opportunity to faculty and staff. They're even given the vegetable starts they need.

“I jumped at the chance to practice my newly acquired gardening interests because of the support offered by SU’s grounds department,” says Ann Schiffer, donor steward assistant in University Advancement. “My home is not yet ready for my dreamy garden beds due to more pressing issues of homeownership. SU’s garden plot allows me a chance to practice organic methods of growing food for self and others while satisfying my need to get back to the earth.” 

Like Schiffer, Helen Sernett, assistant director of annual giving, doesn’t have a lot of space to garden at home and was eager to plant at SU. She is growing broccoli cauliflower chard, Brussels sprouts, peas, beans, cucumbers, squash and basil in her plot.

“It is an amazing opportunity,” she says. “I don’t know anyone else who works at a place where they have the opportunity to have a nicely amended bed put in for them.”