“We’re all very excited about this,” said WC senior Kristin Kliemt, recently elected as president of the new club, the Brenau University Garden Society. Sixteen students came to the initial meeting, and club officers were elected at the second one. B.U.G.S. is planning to make good use of the new garden facilities, prepared over the last two years by student volunteers from various classes, with help from Profs. Rudi Kiefer and Jessi Shrout. The raised plant beds, built with durable cedar lumber, are currently filled with wildflowers to keep the soil active. Prof. Vince Yamilkosky planted herbs and watermelons over the summer. A variety of fruit and hardwood trees are lining the periphery.
“The Presidential Opportunity Grant that Jessi Shrout and I had last year was most helpful in acquiring the necessary tools and supplies,” Kiefer said. “It also provided funds for clearing the slopes adjacent to the Bamboo Forest, which were totally overgrown by hard-to-kill Wisteria. These invasives are trying to make a come-back, and we’ll do the best we can to keep them low. In the long run, a total work-over of the grounds with serious machinery is likely to be needed. We’ll see what the future brings. I’m pleased with the great level of interest that the students are showing in this sustainability project.”
B.U.G.S. is currently preparing the paperwork to apply for official club status at the university. When the club is accepted by the Student Government, it will have the ability to conduct fundraisers and events on campus.
“I look forward to learn about food production, and to teach my fellow students about how to grow things,” said Chantal Russell, vice president of the club. “If all the club members pitch in, we’ll have a selection of campus-grown organic vegetables for the first time at Brenau.” Kliemt is thinking even farther, envisioning flowers produced for fund-raisers. “Imagine if we could grow the specific flowers that are the trade marks of sororities!” she said. “It would bring us together with other groups, and help promote the Brenau community, as well as topics in sustainability. Healthy lifestyles begin with good nutrition, and we’ll produce food that serves as an example and a teaching tool. Our new members are from 5 different countries, at last count – so here’s a chance to spread the message around the world.”
Much remains to be done. More stone benches are awaiting assembly, and compost bins need to be built. But judging from the enthusiasm shown by weed-cleaning teams last year, the construction groups of last summer, and the excitement among the members of the new club, the edible garden project on campus is well under way.