By Tierra Smith
Grambling State University Media Bureau
GRAMBLING, LA – The City of Grambling and Grambling State University are teaming to start a community garden with fresh vegetables for citizens and students.
The university received a Keep Louisiana Beautiful grant of $3,300 for the project in a statewide competition for grant money from a $55,000 fund to combat litter and beautify northern Louisiana.
“Student volunteers will learn about gardening from community volunteers who are familiar with the process,” said Roy L. Bedford, director of the Office of Service Learning at Grambling State University. “The volunteers will participate in light tilling, fertilizing, planting and fence building.”
Kassandra Merritt, 18, a freshman mass communications major from Montgomery, Ala. is one of the students who signed up to take advantage of a chance to receive service-learning hours.
“I am excited about the community garden because it’s a chance to receive service learning hours,” said Merritt. “Plus it looks good on job and scholarship applications.”
Connie Walton, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, decided the service learning office would administer the grant, providing students with a chance to earn service-learning credit. Students are required to obtain 80 academic-based hours and 80 community hours as a graduation requirement.
Bedford said the community garden will improve the quality of life for students while stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance and providing nutritious food. The garden will be home to fresh greens, peas, tomatoes, squash, onions and beans.
“The community garden project is designed to allow 50 or more students to work with establishing the garden,” said Bedford. “Students will have the opportunity to work with all aspects of the planting process from tiling the soil to actually harvesting the vegetables after they have reached maturity.”
ArdeannWilliams, 21, a sophomore social work major from New Orleans, signed up on Thursday to volunteer with friends.
“I have gardened before but my thumb seems more like a black one than a green one,” said Williams. “I usually kill every plant I plant. Now that I think about it, I don’t think they should want me volunteering.”
Williams is optimistic that the community volunteers will help her learn the proper care of plants and make the experience more enjoyable than her past attempts.
Tuesday will be the first day work starts in the garden, located on College Avenue west of the university’s Washington-Johnson Complex. “The city is providing the land and assisting with the clearing and beautification process,” said Bedford. The land is owned by the city and a request to use land was processed through the office of Mayor Edward Jones a few weeks ago. The mayor could not be reached for comment.
Volunteers will start at 9 a.m. and continue to get as much work done as possible by 5 p.m. Students will not be excused from classes, and they asked not to sign up during scheduled classes. Bedford said it is important that citizens and students sign up in advance so the office can prepare and provide a good briefing before the project starts.
Citizens and students are asked to sign up in Charles P. Adams Hall, Room 118, on the university’s campus by Monday at 4 p.m. Volunteers can also contact the service learning at 274-2547.
Bedford said volunteers are needed to maintain the garden and the frequency of weeding and more depends on the amount of rain and the growth of the vegetables. “We hope to have a large majority of the student body will take advantage of the opportunity to give back to the community through this project,” he said. “There is enough work to find something for all to do.”