With the arrival of spring, Radford University students gathered at Selu Conservancy Saturday, April 26, for a groundbreaking in preparation for its first crop.
Almost 30 RU students and faculty spent the day laying out beds, amending soil, mulching pathways and building fences for a 100-foot by 60-foot garden that will include 10 beds to generate produce for area fresh food pantries and club members, said Will Dowd, president of the Selu Garden and Service Club.
"It was a great chance to get outside on a beautiful day and work with some great students who really want to do something and make a difference," said Dowd, a senior geospatial sciences major from Smithfield. Dowd expressed his thanks to the Scholar-Citizen Initiative and RU Sustainability for donation of material needed to get the garden project up and running.
The first planting will take place soon, said Dowd, and the effort will culminate at a harvest festival in the fall as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Selu Conservancy. The garden will feature corn, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumber, green beans, eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupe, rosemary, thyme, sage and lavender from seeds donated by the Virginia Master Gardeners.
The Selu Conservancy is a 380-acre retreat/meeting center and classroom facility, located seven miles from campus. The Conservancy includes a 4,000 square-foot "Barn" equipped with meeting rooms, an observatory and the Selu Retreat Center.
"I was impressed by the work ethic and the number of volunteers who worked hard all day," said Jeff Armistead, director of Selu. "They put in a lot of effort to build the soil up to make it a good producer and source of all-round sharing."
The Garden Club will meet weekly during the summer to tend the plot and complete a variety of other projects at Selu, including the conversion of a dozen cement trash cans into raised beds and handicap-accessible planters.