Sustainability Department Grows: weekly farmer’s market and addition of Meditation Garden


Sadie Helmick

Angela Kargul and Amy Parsons-White at the Memorial Student Center holding their weekly farmer’s market.

With the inclusion of campus-wide recycling, conservation of energy and water strategies and the introduction of green technologies and materials, the Marshall University Sustainability Department has shown its desire to grow.

After the first seed was planted in the Marshall University Student Garden in 2011, sustainability gardens became a creative resource for students and the community. Lead gardner Angela Kargul, with the assistance from volunteers, holds a farmer’s market every Wednesday of harvest season from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Marshall University Memorial Student Center.

“It is important for us to provide the students with fresh, healthy produce,” Sustainability Coordinator Amy Parsons-White said. “Its so expensive and a lot of students live off campus, without meal plans, so this is a way we can give them something for free.”

The student garden and greenhouse grow an assortment of vegetables including; kale, chard, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants and even purple potatoes and green beans.

“Everything started with the vegetable garden and the greenhouse. Over the years we have expanded,” Kargul said.

After the introduction of the vegetable garden and the greenhouse, the Sustainability Department has since added Monarch Waystation Garden, the Butterfly Oasis, two rooftop gardens and a Meditation Garden.

The Very Important Pollinator (VIP) Garden and the Buttery Oasis were installed in the Spring of 2014, creating a symbiotic relationship with bees and the produce. These gardens feature flowers native to West Virginia that not only attract bees, but also butterflies, birds, flies, moths and beetles.

“We attract them in and then the bees pollinate our vegetables. We end up with beautiful, healthy vegetables because we have an influx of bees,” Parsons-White said.

More recently, the Sustainability Department has joined forces with Gro Huntington, a non-profit organization dedicated to revive Huntington by working with land to learn important coping, life and job skills.

“We teamed with Gro Huntington to build a Meditation Garden,” Parsons-White said. “It looks kinds of like a teepee. It’s covered in morning glories, cucumbers and squash and they are in the process now of vining up, but by fall it will be completely vine-covered. Students can go in and meditate, lounge, relax and destress while spending a little time surrounded by nature.”

Upon success, Parsons-White looks to expand Meditation Gardens across campus.

“Students, especially, need to destress,” Parsons-White said. “If it goes over well, we will be able to add more across campus and we will able to offer a little oasis of relaxation to our students and staff.”

The Sustainability Department works to show students and the community the importance of sustainability in everyday life, while also instilling an appreciation of where produce comes from.

“You learn a lot working in the gardens,” said Kargul. “You get a new appreciation for farmers.”

Volunteer days for the gardens occur at the student gardens every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. Produce from the farmer’s market is free for students, but any money donated goes to the upkeep of the sustainability gardens and greenhouses.

Sadie Helmick can be contacted at