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The Gardens at Bismarck State College

by Jennifer Weisgerber

Jennifer Weisgerber


WHY?
 

As more focus is placed on healthy eating, knowing where our food comes from, sustainability, and even economics, community gardening will become more desirable, for those who don’t have space for a garden or have minimal knowledge on how to get started. Other people seek out community gardens to contribute their knowledge and to get social interaction. There is already one (normally full) community garden in Bismarck and one in Mandan. No gardens currently exist on the north side of town.

WHO?

There is a local group focused on permaculture, which is most easily defined as an approach to garden and agriculture design that utilizes relationships found in successful ecosystems, along with organic techniques. They need a site/medium to educate the community at large about the benefits and potential significance of permaculture. This group has members from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), who also have a vested interest in urban gardening techniques, practices and encouragement.

  • Bismarck State College has an internal innovation-generating program they call Wild Endeavors. The idea of a community garden resulted from a Wild Endeavor suggestion, but since then, there hasn’t been much activity besides some site selection. Some funding is available, but no clear vision exists for the project.
  • Me. I have an extensive relationship with Bismarck State College (as a long-time student, employee, and upcoming adjunct faculty) and know some very knowledgeable people who know even more knowledgeable people. My older sister, Rebecca, is a certified master gardener, recently completed certification to teach permaculture and has a distinct passion for anything that grows. She leads the permaculture group in Bismarck.

GOALS

  • Create an outdoor space where people from diverse backgrounds gather to learn, educate others and participate in hands-on activities that put permaculture sensibilities to work
  • Create a stronger focus on sustainable agriculture and its future role in our world
  • Provide a learning and service opportunity for Bismarck State College students
  • Create cross-curriculum partnerships for future growth and security of The Gardens (agriculture, business, soil sciences, marketing, social services, elementary education, botany, etc.)
  • Make The Gardens a “tourist” attraction for the BSC campus – for students, faculty and staff as well as community
  • Be a springboard for future ideas and goals of The Gardens: be a CSA, start a campus farmers market, be a food pantry supplier, serve “featured” items in campus food service (could be expanded to production for, mimicking Farm to Table), branch out into sustainable livestock production, other areas of interest, garner support for higher education in permaculture/sustainable agriculture

TIMELINE

  • Planning, prep, support gathering ­­— 2010
  • Garden opens — Spring 2011
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