IVSustainability summer garden project underway


Andrea Neff

Jared Olesen, IVSustainability adviser, directs students on the plot of land designated to serve as a fully functional garden, located on the south side of campus. Olesen is currently looking for more students to dedicate time this summer to work on the garden.

In an effort to build a program at IVCC that teaches students how to develop and operate a profitable small farming business, the IVSustainability group has begun working on a garden for the campus.

The process to begin the garden started in the middle of April and go until the end of September. During this time the group is looking for anyone who wants to enjoy time outside over the summer by getting in touch with the sun, soil, and the food, to help.

“There are three students that help pretty regularly with a lot of the food and farming activities that we do, and probably another two or three that come and help when they have the time,” Jared Olesen, IVSustainability adviser, said. “We had more last year, but this year’s participation is down, so we could use some newcomers.”

While some of the work will be hard and intense, some of it is really relaxing and low impact. Within this process Olesen said there is a wide variety of fun to be had, from digging and moving soil, building and laying irrigation lines and driving stakes, to tying up plants, pruning, and weeding.

This work will not go unappreciated either. Olesen said, “This year we’re planting several different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and onions. We’ll have cilantro growing in the aquaponics system, and maybe experiment with some garlic in there too. All of this is primarily for salsa, though some of it will go to eating and cooking on its own.”

In the long run the hope of this system is to teach students how to grow food, add value to it, and bring it into the marketplace for selling. Olesen sees potential in this garden system saying, “Our college should play an active role in planting the seeds for that future, and the garden is an effort with that future in mind.”

At this time the position to help on the IVSustainability garden at IVCC will not be a paid position, however, there is hope that in the future the small farming operations can grow to the extent of hiring on workers.

Anyone looking to join the fun can start on the project immediately and participate at any level of commitment they feel suitable.

For further information, contact Jared Olesen through e-mail at [email protected] or stop by his office in D-311.