Community grows alongside corn in Transy Garden

The fruits of Transylvania University’s May term are many — from interdisciplinary insights to wisdom gained through travel.

More literal May term fruits (mostly vegetables, actually) are ripening behind Poole Residence Hall. The Garden of Transylvania class planted this produce in the spring while learning not only about gardening but also about biology, exercise science, nutrition, etc. And while the results of their efforts soak up the sun and rain, members of the Transy community who are on campus during the summer can use the garden as a place to have a meeting, eat lunch or just relax (while weeding, if they’re so inclined).

“The porch of the shed, or the grape arbor are ideal places for contemplation,” said Professor of Chemistry Eva Csuhai, who teaches the May term class.

Csuhai, along with retired professor Anthony Vital and Karen Anderson, former coordinator of community service and civic engagement, started the garden and the Transy Community Garden Association in 2009. While students, faculty and staff have come and go over the years, Csuhai’s May term classes have been a constant over the past decade.

The university’s AmeriCorps VISTA garden outreach coordinator, Margaux Crider, also helps maintain the Transy Garden. She said that along with the students, several professors tend plots there.

Crider, like Csuhai, sees a variety of opportunities. “I see the garden as more than just a place to grow food. It is a cultural space, a community space, a creative space,” Crider said. “Gardening teaches us the value of patience and hard work. You have to have trust in a garden — trust in the folks you work with and trust that nature knows what she’s doing. Most of all, it teaches us to respect the life that is the food we eat.”

Crider mentioned the possibility of using surplus produce for a small farmers market of sorts for people on campus. This year’s produce includes beans, zucchini, okra, corn, peppers, herbs, mustard greens, tomatoes and sunflowers.

As for how much surplus there ends up being, that’s up to the weather of course. “We’re all battling the weeds and the buckets of rain we’ve had recently,” Crider said.