When the campus garden started in 2011, there was a lot of buzz about the potential growing and learning opportunities it would provide. Six years later, the garden now also buzzes with the activity of thousands of hardworking honeybees.
In April, the Office of Sustainability and the West Plains Beekeepers Association (WPBA) culminated several months of their mutually beneficial partnership and preparation with the installation of two honeybee hives in the campus garden. The hives were generously donated by Kevin Oldenburg of the WPBA to not only increase the pollination in the area, but also to expand the knowledge about the importance of honeybees to the EWU community.
The maintenance of the garden and the Office of Sustainability as a whole are largely student-led, and so was the project of bringing honeybees to campus.
“Emily Sherman (a recent EWU graduate) really spearheaded it and took the reins as far as making those relationships and contacts and really pursuing it,” said sustainability coordinator Erik Budsberg. “She got really passionate about it and she’s now down in Costa Rica working in a butterfly conservatory.”
Since arriving at the campus garden in April, the honeybees have swarmed and expanded to four separate hives. With the help of the WPBA, they hope to harvest the honey from the hives by the end of August.
What's growing in the garden
- Yellow squash
- Sugar peas
- Butter lettuce
- Bell peppers
The campus garden was established in 2011 by Robin O’Quinn, PhD, Laurie Morley, PhD, and a handful of dedicated students. Since then, the EWU community has been harvesting food from the garden and Dining Services has been using it to prepare campus meals.
“Our number one goal is looking for ways to give it back to the student community,” said Budsberg. “We’re not doing it to make any money, it’s more like, ‘Hey check out this honey, it came from campus from those bees over there, go see them and learn about them, get connected.’”
Along with the Office of Sustainability, Dining Services also helps to manage the garden throughout the year by employing student workers and providing compost.
“It’s a community garden, it’s for everybody,” said Budsberg. “It doesn’t just belong to the Sustainability Club or Dining Services. We’re keeping it alive and working down there, but we’d love to have a lot more people down there involved and engaged. Whoever wants to get involved is more than welcome to come down and take an active role.”
For more information about how to get involved with the campus garden and sustainability on campus, visit the Office of Sustainability website.