Gardening in the city

On Saturday mornings, senior Melissa Eddison hops into a bee suit.

As part of an urban beekeeping initiative she started last summer, Eddison helps maintain four hives of about 100,000 bees on the Mount Vernon Campus. The bees provide homemade honey and help pollinate a newly formed garden on the Vern.

“It was a tangible way to spread education and awareness about eating healthy and sourcing food locally,” said Eddison, who is president of the GW Food Justice Alliance, a student-run organization dedicated to restoring the environment and increasing sustainability on campus.

“First came people with gardening experience, and next people who wanted gardening experience,” said Justin Ritchie, a member of the FJA. “On any given day, you can see students watering the plants in their spare time.”

Despite being surrounded by concrete walls, the garden blends into its urban atmosphere.

“It’s not an in-your-face [thing],” said Ellie Smith, communications chair of the GroW Community Garden.

The Foggy Bottom garden is home to a variety of fruits and vegetables, including eggplants, jalapeño peppers, squash, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, arugula and kale. It also contains pawpaw, persimmon and fig trees.

In addition to being eco-friendly, the garden serves the surrounding community through food donations. The FJA donates 80 percent of its harvest to Miriam’s Kitchen, an organization that provides healthy homemade meals to the homeless.

The remaining harvest goes to volunteers who tend the gardens.

By working with the Office of Sustainability on campus, Smith said the FJA hopes to expand “this little visible piece of sustainability” so that students will begin to question where the food they eat comes from.

“There is something pleasurable about food when you know its origin and have been a part of its whole life before it landed on your plate,” Smith said.

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