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Campus Garden Grows Produce and Shares Knowledge with the Community

June 22, 2018

The University of Montana Western’s Campus Community Garden is an exciting resource that offers the community and campus an opportunity to grow its own produce while sharing knowledge about sustainable growing practices with local organizations.

Bird in Campus Garden

UMW Professor Linda Lyon originally established the garden in the spring of 2010. Lyon coordinated with the UMW Planning Committee and cafeteria in the fall of 2009, with many outcomes in mind including the engagement of students and the community of Dillon, Mont.

Community member Gail Landon, current manager of the campus garden, coordinates with Cheri McCarthy, head of dining services at Montana Western, to supply fresh fruits and vegetables the flourishing garden produces to the cafeteria, as well as helping to eliminate waste.

Gail Landon and Jeff Stanek

In the spring of 2010, a hoop house, water catchment system, compost bins, and initial growing beds were installed. Currently, there are three hoop houses and two greenhouses (one made of 85% recycled materials and powered by wind and sun).

The garden began as a means to compost 35 pounds of daily vegetable scrap waste from the cafeteria. Over the past few years, it has produced as much as 532 pounds of produce for the cafeteria and composted up to 65 pounds of daily waste, an outstanding outcome from the original goal.

According to a presentation by Lyon, “The garden provides the UMW campus and Dillon community with an outdoor living laboratory space that acts as an educational outlet for all aspects of sustainable food production.”

The campus garden plays a large role in the community, donating to the local food bank and working with area K-12 schools to support and promote healthy eating, while gaining an understanding of the importance for sustainable agriculture.

Campus Garden and Youth ChalleNGe Cadets

The garden also provides a working campus green space and programming to support UMW’s Carbon Reduction Plan. There have been many opportunities surrounding the campus garden since spring 2010, including involvement with organizations including the Montana Youth ChalleNGe Academy, Food Corps, the Governor’s Energy Internship Program, Campus Corps, Montana Campus Compact, Americorps, NCAT, Dining Services at UMW, and summer work study.

Community gardening plots are available each season, which provide the opportunity for community members to plant their own garden and enjoy homegrown produce and flowers while helping to sustain a vibrant community resource at the same time.

Plots are available for just $20 per season, which includes watering provided by the Campus Community Garden staff.

If you are interested in a community gardening plot, please contact garden manager Gail Landon by calling 406-865-0524.