Campus Garden and Compost Project

EMU Campus Garden sign

EMU dining hall’s fresh, organic produce comes in large part from our five campus gardens, begun years ago by a professor hoping to give students a practical exercise in sustainability.

Garden locations

  • South Garden, on the corner of Mt. Clinton and College
  • Caf Garden, on the east side of Northlawn, near the den
  • Village Garden, on the Mt. Clinton side of Village Apartments
  • Dogwood Garden, right across Dogwood Street from the University Commons Parking lot
  • East Side Garden, just South of the arboretum.

Students and community members volunteer and maintain the space throughout the year. Students also manage the university compost pile.

Professors utilize the garden and compost area in course development as part of EMU’s Peace with Creation curriculum, studying sustainable agriculture, crop chemistry, and looking at sustainability and development worldwide.

Lessons in sustainable agriculture

EMU Dining HallThe EMU dining hall…

-saves about 350,000 gallons of hot water per year by going tray-less

-recycles all paper and recyclables

-offers “greenware" containers instead of Styrofoam

-uses recycled paper products from a local distributor

Hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture was one of many outcomes Peter Dula, assistant professor of Bible and culture, had in mind when he began the initiative in 2008.

A member of the Creation Care Council food procurement task force, he knew an organic garden was the most affordable and efficient way to supply the campus with healthy, locally grown food.

Students turned the idea into reality, working year-round as volunteers to develop the yield and expand the space.

Within the first year, the garden harvest stocked the cafeteria’s salad bar during Summer Peacebuilding Institute.

The dining hall now hosts a Local Harvest Meal each fall. Large portions of the menu come from the campus garden.

Compost Initiative

A student-led initiative to collect all compostable waste from the dining hall has provided rich compost soil for the campus garden since 2008.

Student workers and volunteers transport 300-500 pounds of dining hall scraps a day across campus via bicycle and maintain the compost piles under the guidance of campus Sustainability Coordinator Jonathan Lantz-Trissel.

The compost facility – located behind the Suter Science Center – is monitored by the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality.

Learn more