Saint Louis Community College at Florissant Valley has established an eco-garden on our campus to promote sustainability efforts and increase sustainability education on campus. The eco-garden also serves to provide education and social engagement, promote native biodiversity (especially soil organisms, insects, and birds), provide carbon sequestration, promote water and soil conservation, and offers a glowing example of organic, sustainable agriculture.
The eco-garden site is on the campus’ former baseball field, an approximately three-acre site. Forty raised beds have been created to grow vegetables and herbs, using organic and no till farming methods. Drip irrigation systems are used as a water conservation strategy, resulting in higher yields and decreased water usage. Crop rotation and a composting system are used to eliminate the need for fertilizers by promoting a healthy, vibrant soil ecosystem. Food is produced free of chemicals and rich in vitamins and minerals. Roughly one-third of the site has been used to create a native tall-grass prairie in order to benefit native wildlife and also provide carbon sequestration in the soil. Below-ground allocation patterns in grasslands contribute to significant carbon storage potential. Combined with the use of no-till farming methodologies (which increase the rate of soil organic carbon sequestration), this carbon sequestration has the potential to significantly offset the campus’ fossil fuel emissions, thus contributing to a more sustainable future.
Serving as an educational garden, a student ecology club has been created to maintain the garden and engage students, faculty, and staff. Curricular modules have been created and implemented across disciplines, involving biology, business, sociology, engineering, math, English, arts and humanities. The student government association has been involved and recently completed their national “Make a Difference Day” service learning activity in the garden. Numerous students have been involved in service learning projects each semester, gaining experience and knowledge regarding sustainable agriculture and carbon sequestration. The SLCC eco-garden serves as a model of sustainable agriculture that has a significant positive impact upon the environment!