By SEAN ROWLEY
One of Tahlequah’s efforts to foster sustainability is moving forward again with the task of clearing gardening space on the Northeastern State University campus.
The new location of the Tahlequah Community Garden is on the south side of West Smith Street, east of Seminary Avenue. Nothing is yet seeded, but the garden is expected to be ready for spring planting.
“We purchased that property simply because we believed, being adjacent to the west side of campus, we might be able to use it for something,” said Tim Foutch, NSU vice president for operations. “We cleared it and kept it mowed the last two or three years, but never developed any plans for it.”
Because a number of NSU faculty and staff participate, the Tahlequah Community Garden contacted university administration about the possibility of moving on campus.
“We have worked out a memorandum of understanding with the community garden,” Foutch said. “It made sense because the land is in a flood plain, has plenty of shade, and we probably won’t ever look at constructing a building there.”
A portion of the plot is recently tilled and a number of water spigots are installed.
“We’ve done a little bit of excavation work and created access to a water source,” Foutch said. “NSU is not funding the water usage. The meter is in the garden’s name so they are paying for the water. Through campus organization activity, students will periodically pull weeds and pick up trash. At some point, the community garden plans to build a fence.”
Begun in 2008, the community garden is dedicated to small plot intensive, or “spin,” farming. Families cultivate portions of the plot, and a minimum of 10 percent of produce grown in the garden goes to the local CARE Food Pantry.
Families may participate for free providing they use chemical-free cultivation methods.
Foutch said NSU wants to foster community practices which minimize environmental impact.
“Sustainability is a mindset we want to promote,” he said. “If we can help create processes of sustainability on our campus, we are interested. We also want to be a resource for people. We want to come up with ways to address the carbon footprint, waste reduction and recycling efforts. Working with the community garden goes hand in hand with such efforts.”
For information about the Tahlequah Community Garden, call Julie Gahn at (918) 207-9107.