The Montevallo Organic Community Garden is a unique asset to the community. The garden, located just past the baseball field on Middle Street, provides students and other residents the opportunity to grow fresh produce that is affordable. A large portion of what is grown is also donated to the Shelby Emergency Assistance and given to local families in need.
The Montevallo Community Garden was started by the university’s Environmental Club. The project was developed during the 2008-2009 academic year, and the garden was planted in 2009. It was changed to the current location in 2010. It costs $5 for students to rent a 6 feet by 8 feet plot and $10 for other community members. Plot rental period is May to October or November to March.
All of the food is fresh and local farmers are supported in the process. The food grown includes broccoli, radishes, turnips, various greens, cabbages, carrots, sprouts and lettuces. Most of the food is donated to families in need, and some students volunteer in order to grow food to donate. In two years, more than 2,000 pounds of vegetables have been donated.
“All of the food I grow is donated to Shelby Emergency Assistance for people in need,” said Holly Pless, Montevallo student and Community Garden manager. “This includes house fires, loss of jobs and other emergencies. Knowing that someone is not going hungry is awesome!”
The Community Garden has advantages for both people and the environment. “One benefit of growing food locally is not polluting the environment through the transport of food,” said Professor Jill Wicknick, who teaches the Summer Harvest class in the Community Garden. “The food tastes better, and people spend time outside.”
The Community Garden also teaches kids to help with sustainability in other areas. “They can learn to be personally careful about how they live their lives to reduce their impact,” said Wicknick.
Working in the Montevallo Community Garden also ties in to the Environmental Studies minor.
“Gaining skills in the garden has the obvious benefit of giving students the power to sustain themselves on some level,” said Professor Lee Rozelle. “Students who take the Environmental Studies minor will be able to apply their knowledge on multiple levels: writers will be able to talk sustainability, teachers can enliven any field with green know-how and business majors will have a green edge.”
A main reason that people enjoy working in the Community Garden is that it is a great stress reliever. “There are many benefits to growing one’s own food,” said Rozelle. “It’s cheap, it’s healthier, and it makes one more self reliant. It is very rewarding to grow things.”
To find out more about renting a plot and donating food, call 665-6480 or visit the University of Montevallo Environmental Club page on Facebook.