February 4, 2022

Students Launch Community Garden to Promote Wellness

PBA News

Student Government Association Sustainability Chair Sophia Secrest speaks at the ribbon-cutting for a community garden.

Blossoming from one student’s vision to cultivate community, a PBA community garden opened Monday evening to the cheers of students, faculty and staff.

“Lots of people, resources and prayer went into this,” said garden founder Sophia Secrest, a junior double major in intercultural studies and music. Six months ago, she had an idea to give PBA’s campus a “tangible way to see health and beauty.” The many references to gardening in Scripture inspired Secrest to create something where diverse groups can gather on common ground.

Six neat raised beds now grace the sunny lot beside the Campus Safety building on Olive Avenue. Members of the PBA community may request a plot to plant fruits and vegetables.

A team of student leaders participates in the ribbon-cutting for a new community garden where PBA students, faculty and staff can grow their own food.

After the ribbon cutting Monday, spectators enjoyed folk music, brownies, lemonade and fellowship. Secrest called it “grassroots,” as community members came together seeking to plant and grow their own food.

The idea became reality with the support and funding of Student Development and the Student Government Association. Secrest is the Student Government sustainability chair, overseeing environmental awareness and care on campus.

“Many other people helped,” said Secrest, including Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies Dr. Bryan Froehle. “He came to help us shovel on Sunday while still in his dress clothes. He saw potential in us and potential in the community.”

Students cheer at the ribbon-cutting for a community garden where they can grow their own food.

The first plants in the garden came from Campus Safety Officer Kevin Konynenbelt, who gave the team Spanish oregano to grow and harvest.

“We want to keep it as organic and all-natural as possible. That’s the goal,” said Secrest. “We hope to teach the community gardening, hold open-mic nights, do service projects as a team and begin recycling and composting.” She and her team have other dreams still in the works. “We are bringing people into our little community for a glimpse of PBA culture,” she said.

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