The garden will celebrate its first anniversary on April 22 and Dr. Ellen Green, associate professor of biology at DSU, looks forward to it's continued success and the spring planting season.
"I think it's been a smashing success and I encourage everyone to check it out for themselves. The garden is located on South Fifth Avenue and we’ll be having our spring planting session in a few weeks.
"Vegetables and herbs that were grown last summer were harvested and eaten by those who worked in the garden as well as being sold at the Cleveland Farmers Market. We had a very productive first year, and I'm anticipating a good harvest this year too," she said.
Green said when growing your own fruits and vegetables you cut out any pesticides and they taste better.
"When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, they just plain taste better. If you want a healthier diet with the freshest produce possible, and the ability to control your exposure to chemical pesticides, growing your own can't be beat. Also, there is an amazing variety of heirloom herbs and vegetables available that you can’t find at your local grocery store," she explained.
Green said there are several vegetables a beginner should start with because they grow easily in the Delta.
"Radishes, beans and okra do really well in the Delta and are good choices for beginners. All three can be planted from seed this time of year. Also, I would recommend raised beds. It’s a little more work but worth the effort," she explained.
Green explained the purpose of the community garden is not only to educate DSU students, but Cleveland residents as well.
"The Wiley Community Garden is dedicated to educating the Delta State and Cleveland communities about cultivation of fresh, healthy, local foods, sustainable food systems and the preservation of green spaces through beautiful, edible landscapes. The garden is planted, weeded and harvested by a very dedicated group of Delta State students, faculty and staff and interested community members. Our campus facilities management team deserves special recognition in that they have been instrumental in the building and maintenance of our community garden. They’ve been really terrific to work with," she said.
DSU also has a unique greenhouse, which was built 43 years ago, and Green said it is quite unusual as it's actually built into the walls of the science building on the roof of Caylor Hall.
"Architecturally, it's a real gem. I started managing the greenhouse six years ago. It currently houses a variety of plants that are used to teach biology courses including introductory biology, botany courses and environmental science courses. Starting last year, we have also used the DSU greenhouse to germinate seeds for the Wiley Community garden," she said.
Green said this greenhouse is incredibly beneficial because it is warm year round and allows for the growth of tropical plants. The community garden is a much larger space but can only grow plants during the growing season.
"The greenhouse is part of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University, there is no community greenhouse, per se. Greenhouses and gardens are beneficial because students learn better when they can see and touch and interact with plants as opposed to only reading about them in books. I think the presence of these resources also adds to the beauty of our campus," she added.
For more information about the community garden visit www.facebook.com/DSUWileyCommunityGarden.