Getting your hands dirty in the interest of sustainability

CNU’s community garden creates a space of personal and horticultural growth

Behind the Washington residence hall on East Campus is one of Christopher Newport’s hidden gems that not every student is aware of: the community garden.

A myriad of different crops line the plots in neat rows.

The area is fenced off and somewhat secluded, creating a quiet and welcoming space in which both plants and students can grow in different ways.

A gift from CNU’s class of 2016, the goal of the community garden was to contribute to CNU’s sustainability efforts.

This gift has become one of CNU’s gifts that keep on giving, as it has led the way for other sustainable initiatives such as recycling bins by TowneBank Stadium and the electric car charging stations in the parking garage near the Ferguson center. 

Emily York, the Community Student Garden manager and a junior at CNU, was approached by the university’s Sustainability Coordinator Jen Jones to take the position with the goal of helping to make the garden more visible and accessible to students on campus.

“I think a lot of sustainability is trying to reduce the impact we have,” she said.

“By growing your own things, you’re not only helping to reduce carbon, but you’re adding more green plants. I eat all the food I grow – I’m growing zucchinis right now. By growing those, that means I’m buying less from the stores… Sustainability can be about the world as a whole, but it can also be about you and taking care of yourself and making sure that you’re moving in sustainable ways.”

The community garden not only offers a chance for students to contribute personally to sustainability efforts on campus, but it also creates a space for them to grow personally alongside their crops.

“[Gardening] is a really meditative process,” said York. “I think that having that meditative spot is really good for mental health.”

The garden has 12 total plots, each 4’ x 4’, with 2 demo plots occupied by the Office of Sustainability.

An environmental ethics class has also occupied several plots, speaking to the educational aspect of the garden.

The most popular type of plant for gardeners to grow there has been tomatoes because they are a pretty hardy crop, and they are easy for beginners to take care of.

CNU’s community garden serves many purposes for students and faculty alike, and it will hopefully contribute to a more sustainable campus for years to come.

To apply for a plot, visit the CNU Sustainability webpage through CNU Connect. If you have any questions, contact or

~Anna Dorl, Lifestyle Editor~

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