Oklahoma Christian University is aiming to strengthen its roots in the community and on campus, starting with the implementation of a community garden.
The Oklahoma Christian College of Natural Health Sciences, alongside several community partners, is in the process of launching a campus community garden called the Master’s Garden.
A committee composed of Oklahoma Christian faculty, students, Memorial Road Church of Christ members and Tealridge Retirement Community employees, is leading the plans for a garden designed to bring different generations and members of the community together for one common purpose.
Dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences Jeff McCormack is the faculty member behind the idea of the garden.
“I’ve seen community gardens be extremely successful,” McCormack said. “There is value in teaching students where food comes from and providing fresh produce. It’s a passion I have, and if that can impact someone’s life, then it is worth it.”
Senior Laine Weatherford worked as a grant writer during the summer and is now helping raise funds for the garden. Oklahoma Christian Women’s Association and the Butterfield Memorial Foundation have provided funding, and Weatherford said she is currently reaching out to Oklahoma Christian’s Student Government Association as well.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is partnering with the garden to provide a yearly donation of seeds, plant transplants and consulting support. The garden is also partnering with Capitol Hill and Luther food banks to provide fresh produce to families in need, Weatherford said.
In a funding proposal, the Master’s Garden team explained their plans to begin building the garden on Oct. 7 and eventually expand. The garden will be located on the northwest corner of campus, near the Eagle Trail.
“We plan to build raised beds for the garden in October, and hope to plant our first crop in the spring of 2018,” the proposal said. “Next year, we hope to expand the scope of the garden, eventually branching into university compost efforts and attaching the garden to a larger university green space.”
According to senior Hadley Lamascus, social clubs, SGA and Eagles Health Initiative are involved in the Master’s Garden, but volunteer opportunities are open to all.
“The garden will be great for the school as a community,” Lamascaus said.
McCormack said the garden was partially inspired by the addition of the Nutrition and Exercise degree this year and will serve as a laboratory for students. The garden is another opportunity for both students and the university to give back to the community by donating all the food it produces.