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GPC students, faculty garden for a cause
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Students and faculty at Newton’s Georgia Perimeter College campus are learning about sustainable living through a campus garden that has produced an array of vegetables to donate to a local food bank.

Sallie Paschal, an adviser to the Earth Club and a math professor at GPC, said as part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools program, GPC wanted students to be more involved with engaging sustainable activities.

Paschal said last year, the college helped to fund and build a garden for students and faculty, constructing raised beds.

The objectives of the school’s garden were to encourage more student involvement, produce all organic goods and to provide a harvest to go to charity.

Now, in its second year, the garden’s student and faculty crops are teaching students about sustainability.

"We want [students] to understand that food does not originate at Kroger, and we want them to understand the difference between the goodness of being organic and what a sustainable activity is … and what that means for our future," Paschal said.

Faculty volunteers are responsible for each plot, Paschal said, and students of those faculty members participate in the hands-on work in the garden.

For some faculty members, teaching students about organic gardening fits right into their curriculum.

"One of [our] faculty members is a sociology instructor, so he can make it part of his class. One of [his students’] requirements is to be working, say an hour a week, in the garden as a part of his class,’’ she said.

Paschal said she helps faculty members who aren’t familiar with gardening learn how to plant and buy the correct items for their plots.

"Summer season is about May until September, and then in September we will have our students come out and pull all of this up and put down compost and other amendments," she said.

"Then we will plant cool weather things — like your leafy spinach, lettuces, romaine, arugula and things like that.

"We’ll do that all the way up until April, when we start back up for the summer."

Paschal said students and faculty have planted tomatoes, okra, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, green beans, peanuts and banana and green peppers. She said flowers also were planted to attract bees for pollination.

She added that the produce grown has been donated to The Community Food Bank.

"I have taken about 365 measured pounds of produce to the Community Food Bank [so] far since May," she said.

"We are about mid-season right now, so we’ll have at least that much more."

"It’s just been a win, win, win,’’ Paschal said.

‘‘We get to teach our students new things and we get to give food to the food bank."