Columbia College students finish garden project
COLUMBIA - The Columbia College International Club wrapped up its community garden project Tuesday. For the past few weeks, members of the club worked with international students from Jefferson Middle School on planting garlic, spinach and other edible vegetables in the "Cougarden".
Leah Buretta, Columbia College's international student adviser, thought the project would be a good idea to bring different international groups together as partners in education.
"This is just an on-going service project that allows for a greater international global community and we're just really excited about it and hope to see it literally grow," Buretta said.
Columbia College Public Relations Coordinator Jennifer Truesdale said the middle school students are all students who have been in this country for less than a year.
She said the younger students were not only excited to get into the gardening, but also to get to work with students who may speak the same language as them.
"They've come here with virtually no understanding of the language," Truesdale said. "Giving them the opportunity to connect with international college students who can relate to that culture shock is really beneficial."
Volunteers said they could see the growth in not only the plants, but also in the middle school students.
"There are some students who have been coming here consistently and you can just see them becoming a little less shy and learning new words," Buretta said. "Today, a lot of them learned what harvest means. It's just a great way for them to get acclimated."
The project is funded with the help of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture.
"We give a $250 mini-grant for outdoor classrooms and we have more available for anyone who wants to apply," CCUA Executive Director Billy Polanksy said.
The club's president, Michael Brown, said this project gave the younger students an opportunity to work on a long-term project and then reap the benefits of hard work.
"We actually harvested the spinach and got to eat some as kind of a farewell for the summer," Brown said.
The club hopes to continue fostering a community of service and culture while also providing fresh food to a charitable cause.