| Home

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Western Pa. farming efforts grow in college

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Oct. 18, 2010

This year's growing season is winding down, but local colleges are looking to build on their campus farming efforts.

"I really hope more people get involved, because it's a valuable experience to connect with the earth," said Billy Epting, 22, a Carnegie Mellon grad student who helped develop a campus garden near the Solar Decathlon House.

Pitt students this year started an urban garden dubbed The Farm. In 2008, Chatham University began working on a 388-acre farm the school took over in the North Hills.

All three schools are part of a growing trend of college students taking an active role in producing their own food on campus.

Each of the gardens provides food for their volunteers. Pitt students organize potluck dinners with dishes made from the garden. Chatham sells some produce grown at the former Eden Hall Farm in Richland at a weekly farmers market on its Oakland campus and sometimes provides ingredients to the dining hall.

"Students are so far removed from the family farm, from the outdoors," said Kerri LaCharite, a Chatham professor who teaches classes on organic gardening and sustainable growing. "They have this craving to connect back to food and nature."

Chatham's two gardens total less than an acre but produce a lot of, well, produce. The yield includes squash, pumpkins, kale and onions as well as 10 types of tomatoes and four varieties of eggplant. About 30 students, graduate and undergraduate, tend to the farm as part of their studies, and other volunteers swap labor for food, LaCharite said.

The gardens at Pitt and CMU are not part of the universities' curricula, though the groups believe their efforts are educational.

"We really have no idea where food comes from, especially on a college campus with all the cafeterias," said senior psychology major Reva Gorelick, president of Pitt's "Plant to Plate" student group.

The university gave the group use of a plot off Oakland Avenue. Students have grown an array of produce, including zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, green beans and strawberries. The garden draws attention from many students in addition to the nearly 60 who help with planting, weeding and harvesting, Gorelick said.

CMU's plot produced healthy yields of tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard and herbs, in addition to other produce. Fall projects include building better fencing, which hopefully will keep out the rabbits that devoured the beans and peppers, Epting said. Early planting next year might help the corn and blueberries, which didn't do too well this year, he said.

A sign will be added, which hopefully will add to the dozen or so people who participate, Epting said.

"I feel like a lot of people see it and think it's cool," he said. "But they have no idea about how to join us."

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. McCullers’, McLendon’s prowess in clogging trenches crucial to Steelers defense
  2. Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
  3. Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
  4. Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
  5. After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
  6. Rainy summer delays paving projects in New Kensington
  7. Former South Park coach Loughran optimistic about Fox Chapel’s prospects
  8. O’Neil jumps right in to AD duties at Kiski Area
  9. Winfield Community Park restroom project stalls over high contractor bids
  10. Porter’s passion for discus places him among nation’s best throwers
  11. Roman Catholic Church in midst of culture clash over gays