MARIETTA, OHIO—Washington State Community College (WSCC) is breathing new life into the John F. Greacen Agri-Lab. The restoration of the nearly 12-year-old greenhouse is an initiative that will provide benefit to both the campus and the community. The greenhouse, which was constructed on WSCC’s campus in 2010, will be revitalized as the college’s new wellness garden.
WSCC’s Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness Gary Barber explained that the project partners the college with The Ohio State University (OSU) and Marcus McCartney, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Washington County from the OSU Extension office. “The goal is to start a garden that will provide fresh produce for our faculty, staff, and students, but in reality, it will have many more benefits.”
Beyond the fresh supply of healthy herbs and vegetables for faculty and staff, Barber said the garden will be used as a source to supplement fresh produce for the WSCC Food Pantry. The Pantry provides support to approximately 75 people, including WSCC students and members of their families.
It will also be a valuable classroom tool. Valerie Webster, WSCC biology instructor, expressed her excitement about the garden project because she immediately saw opportunities to integrate it into her biology curriculum. “Our students can absolutely benefit from this garden. It will enrich their learning experience.” She said she plans to adapt her lesson plans to get her students involved immediately by planting lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and kale seeds.
Additionally, the newly restored greenhouse will be used as a research station for OSU. McCartney will use the facility to conduct research on vertical gardening with his initial project focused on cucumbers. McCartney will also serve as a guide to help ensure the garden’s success.
Improvements are currently underway, including the replacement of the plastic exterior and construction of new planting beds. These projects are expected to be completed in time for planting to begin by mid to late February, which will ensure produce is available for distribution before students leave campus for summer break.
Pictured are–front row (left to right) Mandy Bailey—WSCC Biology and Chemistry Lab Technician, Douglas Unsold—WSCC Food Pantry Representative, Olga Araya—Community Volunteer, Marcus McCartney—Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Washington County from the OSU Extension office. Back row: Valerie Webster, WSCC Biology Faculty, Brandon Herb—WSCC Facilities, and Gary Barber— WSCC’s Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness.