For the upcoming growing season, Rider Green Acres, headed by Katie Jaworski, junior sociology and environmental science major, will be upgrading and revamping the organic garden on campus. If you have not come across it by now, it is located behind Daly’s towards Rt. 206. This garden was founded in 2011, and every year since then it has produced an abundance of produce and flowers that are enjoyed by the students, faculty and staff of Rider.
In the upcoming year, Green Acres plans to reconstruct the garden by implanting a raised garden bed system which will replace the current in-ground garden design. The benefits of using raised beds versus the traditional in-ground method are that they prevent soil from compacting, enable a longer growing season, involve less weeding and maintenance, enable better drainage, and help conserve minerals in the soil. All of these aspects will help the garden flourish and produce many more plants in the future that will provide the Rider family with delicious, pesticide-free produce. If you are interested in helping with the Green Acres garden, please contact Katie Jaworski. She is always looking for volunteers, and anyone can help out.
Organic gardens are the most sustainable source of fresh produce. At the local supermarket, more often than not, the produce is not organic. Produce from supermarkets in the vicinity of Rider, such as ShopRite, is likely shipped from overseas or from across the country. It is then harvested and loaded onto trucks, boats, trains and even airplanes to be shipped to our closest neighborhood supermarket. This is unsustainable because of the amount of energy and fossil fuels used in the transportation process. Furthermore, the pesticides that are used on these large-scale farms are detrimental to the health of our environment and all of the organisms that live in it, including ourselves. The EPA reports that exposure and/or consumption of pesticides can cause health problems such as birth defects, nerve damage and cancer. To be more sustainable and healthy in our everyday lives, we need to incorporate more community organic gardens, like the one we have on campus.
Right down the street from Rider is the city of Trenton, which has its own plethora of community gardens. Isles Inc., a community development organization based in Trenton, supports more than 30 community gardens that are scattered throughout our state capital. For years, these gardens have played a vital role in providing low-income families with delicious produce. The creation and upkeep of these gardens also bring communities together and help to create connections. Once the growing season begins again in the spring, Rider students can volunteer with Isles by visiting its website.
Even if you are not interested in the Green Acres garden or the community gardens in our area, there is an additional opportunity for everyone at Rider to be involved in a smaller way. I am sure most of you left your beloved pets at home when you came to college. Although this may be depressing, there is an easy solution that will give you similar satisfaction. Get a dorm plant. Dorm plants can help brighten up your life in more ways than you can imagine. Just a little bit of water and sunlight each day will keep these plants alive and will allow you to play a role in caring for a living organism.
Ever feel like your room smells stale without circulating air? A plant can help freshen up your dorm room. Think your room is dull and boring? Dorm plants come in all sorts of colors to help brighten up your living quarters. Now what kind of plants can you keep in a dorm room? Try small cacti or succulents. Pick one up at Willis Greenhouses, which is only a few blocks down Rt. 206, for fairly cheap. If you are looking for something bigger, try Aloe Vera or Spider Plants. These plants are a vibrant green and can fill in an empty space in a room.
If you want to go all out, you can get a small citrus tree for your dorm room. Yes, you can grow your own oranges and lemons in your room. These trees require more sunlight, watering and maintenance than the previously-mentioned plants, but the reward is your own self-grown citrus fruit. There are so many other types of plants that you can grow in your dorm room. For help on choosing the right plant for you and how to take care of it, check out aberdeenflorist.com.
The choice is yours. You can either continue living your life as it is now or you can help make a difference in the world today and for the future. Every step towards sustainability counts. Whether it be a community garden, a dorm plant, recycling, or even taking shorter showers, every small step in the direction of sustainability is a positive one. We Rider students have the power to make a change.
Printed in the 11/05/14 issue.