December 15, 2016
For years now, Hannah Johnston ‘19 has helped her mother tend to their backyard vegetable garden in Millington, Md.
But her family’s garden plot pales in comparison to the garden she helps run now. Johnston is one of the student coordinators of the university’s campus garden. In the past two years, the 15,000-square-foot garden produced 800 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables—high-quality food that students donate to churches and other nonprofit groups that feed the hungry.
Collaborating with a team of nearly 60 other student workers and volunteers, Johnston has helped expand the garden and build raised beds to enhance yields. They start seeds and pot seedlings in a greenhouse, turn dining service food scraps into compost and use collected rainwater to water to water the garden.
“It’s been great working with other students on something that we love to do,” says the graphic design major who works at the garden under a paid Biology department student assistantship. “And it’s a full food circle. The local community does so much to support the university in so many different ways, and we get a lot of our supplies from local stores.
“To then be able to put the food back out there for the community to have when they need it most is great.”
Johnston has distributed some of the garden’s produce at the Selinsgrove Senior Center. “Seeing the seniors smile and thank us is an amazing feeling,” says Johnston, ‘because we know that, without our efforts, they would not be able to have these fresh fruits and veggies.”