During the fall of 2018, the Director of the Office of Engagement Programs, Syeisha Byrd, had dreamed of opening a vegetable garden on Syracuse University’s campus with the goal of offering fresh vegetables to our students. Byrd also runs the Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry and sees on a daily basis the need for fresh produce within the pantry. Byrd approached Pete Sala, the Chief Facilities Officer, and he loved the idea, and knew of the perfect spot for a garden. Sala introduced Byrd to Melissa Cadwell and Meg Lowe of Sustainability Management and Pat Carroll, the University's Grounds manager. With these connections the three departments were able to work together to plan and install the first vegetable garden.
Carroll and his team were instrumental in building the garden beds, providing the first plants, and even securing donations of two apple trees for the garden. Cadwell and Lowe offered help in planning and maintaining the garden over the summer, while hosting student interns from the Falk College Food Studies Program. From this last collaboration, Food Studies Internship Coordinator, Elissa Johnson, lent her wealth of garden expertise to the project. Johnson coordinated and led workshops, organized student, faculty and staff volunteers throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2019. The workshops ensure proper gardening techniques are being used by all involved in the garden. Additionally, Johnson reached out to Brady Farms who donated plants to the garden as well.
The garden also highlighted the need for a food pantry on South Campus. During the fall of 2019, Sustainability Management opened the second locatioi at 161 Farm Acre Road, on South Campus opened their first food pantry. The students who have used the pantry were excited about the fresh vegetable as they were able to incorporate them into their daily diets.
"“The food pantry provides non-perishable foods that have a long shelf life and help keep our students satisfied,” says Syeisha Byrd, director of the Office of Engagement Programs. “And the garden will enable us to provide fresh, nourishing vegetables that our students may not have access to.”"