Clarksville, TN – This past May, the construction began of a garden on a plot of land near the Emerald Hill Apartments at Austin Peay State University (APSU). What started as a patch of grass soon became the home of four raised garden beds, a miniature greenhouse, two composters, and access to water, all at the disposal of youth campers.
Thanks to a collaboration between University Recreation’s Govs Summer Camp and the Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement, the construction of the garden was made possible after receiving a private grant of $5,000 through the Nashville Predators Foundation.
Through June and July, Govs Summer Camp participants attended weekly lessons on gardening topics, such as the components of a garden, germination, compost, soils, pollinators, and water collection. Over the seven-week period, 224 children ages 5-15 helped to build garden beds, plant vegetable seedlings, and construct a rain barrel.
“I loved it!” 12-year-old Cambree, who attended four weeks of Govs Summer Camp, said. “I got to plant marigolds that have grown so much already since the beginning of the summer! I loved being able to plant and water everything.”
Other campers expressed their excitement over trying certain vegetables for the first time, like squash, and learning how to make pickles from cucumbers.
Representatives of the Nashville Predators Foundation visited with the campers on July 28th, and they observed a lesson and handed out Predators merchandise to the campers.
“Can I give it to my mom? She is going to love this!” 8-year-old William said, excited after receiving a Nashville Predators magnet.
Starting this fall, the garden will be accessible to students living in Emerald Hill and Two Rivers family apartments as a resource for families to grow food and learn together. The Govs Summer Camp garden education program will continue in the future thanks to the contributions of the Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement, Office of Sustainability, and University Recreation.
For more information about the Center of Service-Learning and Community Engagement, visit www.apsu.edu/volunteer.