Raised beds to grow community


Jeffrey Barr

Marina Turco

A renovated garden space for the residents of the Johnson State College apartments is the focus of a collaborative project between the Student Government Association and the Green Solutions club.

SGA Senator Marina Turco became interested in fixing up the area because of her love of sustainable living that she developed at JSC through her Wellness and Alternative Medicine major. She got connected with Samantha Gorton, who Turco says has been the sole caretaker of the existing garden and has a real passion for its upkeep. Turco realized that very few people know that the apartments have this resource and wants to make it a place where people will congregate.

“I just thought it would be really cool to have some type of community at the college apartments,” said Turco. “The people who live on campus have the quad, they have everything.”

Turco said that she, Gorton, the Green Solutions club and part-time faculty member Russ Weis are working together to figure out the specific details of creating raised beds. She said that she estimates there being 6 to 8 beds that are 6 by 8 feet long. If there is a high demand, Turco says that they would be big enough to split between different households. She would like for there to be an indicator on the application for the college apartments to determine whether or not the tenant would like one.

“My hope is to redo the whole garden place up there,” said Turco. “There used to be a labyrinth which is like a meditation walk…it’s overgrown and nasty.” She hopes to clean up this area to make it usable once more.

“It’s such a great thing to have,” said Turco. “I’ve talked to a lot of the apartment kids up there and [some said] ‘if I had that, that would save me even the littlest bit [of money], if I can grow some of my own food’–or even a therapy thing for flowers. I would like to make it a work-study or non work-study job. I think that’s the biggest challenge.” Turco said that she is concerned about who is going to take care of it after her and Gorton have left JSC, which is why she would like someone to be paid to help with the upkeep.

“You have to clean it up before the winter time,” said Turco, “and go up there–not just focusing on the garden beds specifically–but make sure that the area is good and clean, and maybe even help people out.”

Turco says that the project will definitely take place, and that the things left to figure out are unlikely to affect whether or not it will get funding. “I’m looking to make it the most cost effective as possible,” she said. “The SGA definitely wants to put money into it, but I’m trying to find a balance when there’s so many other great things they can do.” Turco predicts that the project will cost less than $1,000, including soil and the cost of the logs that the group is looking to build the bed’s walls with.

Turco plans to begin work on this project as soon as the snow starts to melt permanently. She will be building the garden area up in the summer, and would like to get it done as soon as possible.

The group is open to anyone who is interested in putting time into helping out, and said that people who would like to do so can attend a Green Solutions meeting on Mondays at 5:30pm.