Plant Sciences


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"Grow It Forward" Program Focus Is Community Service

NDSU student volunteers transplanting vegetable seedlings
NDSU student volunteers transplanting vegetable seedlings
A partnership between NDSU students and local community gardens produces vegetables for local residents.

The Grow It Forward community service program at North Dakota State University was started in 2012 by former Assistant Professor Amy Ganguli, School of Natural Resource Sciences; Assistant Professor Greta Gramig, Department of Plant Sciences; and Timothy McCue, former Living Learning Center (LLC) residence hall director. Their service objective was to teach student residents from the LLC how to plant and maintain vegetable seedlings in their greenhouse research space in early spring and then donate the seedlings to various community gardens in the Fargo area once it is warm enough for gardening activities to begin.

Although two of the original founding coordinators have moved on to other positions, the program and its mission continues to exist under the guidance of Associate Professor Alan Zuk, Department of Plant Sciences. Student volunteers from the LLC provide vegetable seedlings for community gardens located at the YWCA, Nativity Catholic Parish, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fargo, CHARISM Youth Garden, Touchmark Retirement Community, and the Grow It Together Community Garden.

In these local community gardens you will see young and old, new Americans and local residents working side by side to plant, tend and harvest the gardens. Most vegetables produced are taken home by the gardeners, sold to the public to support various gardening projects, used for meals provided onsite, or donated to local food pantries.

“NDSU Grow It Forward has been invaluable to the Nativity Community Garden,” shares Director Reba Mathern-Jacobson. “It allows us to grow a wider variety of food that benefits many families who are members of the garden, as well as people using the Dorothy Day House and food pantry.”

CHARISM Children’s Garden Director Andrea Jang explains the benefits local youth receive from participating in a garden project planted with Grow It Forward seedlings. “Many of the youth who tend to the [CHARISM] garden live in apartment buildings and do not have green space of their own. The garden at CHARISM creates an opportunity for the children to learn every aspect of plant growth from the soil, to the seed, to harvest! Gardening provides great outdoor physical activity, as well as healthy snack and meal options for these children and their families!”

Outcomes such as these affirm to Grow It Forward student volunteers the value of serving a community that provides so much to them during their academic career at NDSU.

Source: Alan Zuk, 701-231-7540,
Editor: Kamie Beeson, 701-231-7123,

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