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Discovery Garden Is Sprouting Roots on the Kent State Salem Campus

Posted July 1, 2013 | Tina Smith
enter photo description
Maurice Peoples, horticultural facilities coordinator at
Kent State University at Salem, works in the Discovery
Garden with Lisa Merrick, 5, whose grandmother, Kim
Merrick
, is a student earning her bachelor of applied
horticulture degree.

To everything there is a season. And now that summer is around the corner, it is gardening time at Kent State University at Salem. Faculty and students from the horticulture program spent time this past spring planning, designing and prepping the Discovery Garden — an outdoor classroom where individuals can learn, grow, live and laugh.

John Majernik, faculty member in the horticulture program, is helping to oversee the development of the garden, along with fellow instructor Maurice Peoples. They have worked with students to plant items such as potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, collard greens, onions, sweet peppers, carrots, beets, green beans and a “hodgepodge of vegetables.”

Through their planning, people of all ages can learn basic gardening skills, along with new techniques. The garden’s design helps the teaching process, with wide spaces between the planted rows that allow visitors to walk through the garden without disturbing plants.

Next spring, Majernik hopes that students in the sports turf classes can use the garden as part of their required service learning component. Likewise, nursing students may become involved as part of their community service requirements.

enter photo description
The Discovery Garden at Kent State University at Salem
is an outdoor classroom where individuals can learn,
grow, live and laugh.

This is the first year for the garden, but ideas for expansion are already being considered. Down the road, Majernik hopes to have container gardens and another outdoor space to expand learning opportunities.

“There are so many possibilities,” he says. “This fits nicely with the idea of wellness and healthy lifestyles, knowing that we are growing vegetables and showing people how to take part in a wholesome activity. This is a perfect project for senior citizens or youngsters. We’d like to eventually show how to can and preserve what we grow, and how to make the best use of available space.”

Produce from the garden will be used on campus for a wellness program, but much of the produce is planned to be used for a community dinner and as donations to an area food distribution program.