Behind Weatherspoon Gymnasium, where horses and their young riders once trod in Meredith’s by-gone days, can be found a new destination for students on campus and a hidden treasure. Gathering itself in the shade of a grove of willow oak, Meredith’s community garden, also known as the Three Sisters Garden, runs out to a plain of green, raised beds lush with vegetables, manifold plants, and the open air and the Carolina sun. Here students can discover (or rediscover) the ways of the natural world and its connection to their food and good health, learn the art of growing one’s own food, and find community.
The “Three Sisters” refers to the ancient Native American practice of planting the trio of corn, beans and squash together, recognizing a synergism both agriculturally and nutritionally among these plants. This concept speaks nicely to the mission of the Meredith garden: respect for the innate wisdom of nature, diversity and balance, sustainability, growth and simplicity.
In its current location since 2013, and constructed from a generous grant from the college, the community garden has become the face of sustainability on campus. At its core the mission of the garden is education, be it a direct connection between garden activities and academic courses across campus, or perhaps an undergraduate research project, or simply coming down on one of the regularly scheduled work days to pick up a few lessons in vegetable cultivation or discover a new culinary herb or novel plant food. Student-lead initiatives find a place here, such as the weekly farm stands offering fresh produce grown in the garden, to the college’s Campus Kitchen Project or CKP. CKP is a student-run food recovery program centered in colleges and universities across the country that collects left-over food destined for the trash bin from the community and repurpose it into healthy meals for less fortunate groups in the community.
Thoreau spoke to the value of his time spent in nature as, “Learning the language of the fields.” Meredith’s community garden offers opportunities for the students, faculty, and staff to interact with and find meaning in the natural world, and set down roots in healthy and sustainable eating.
—Submitted by Professor of Nutrition Bill Landis