Timmy’s Garden — named in memory of the son of Professor Kathy O’Loughlin — is in its third growing season at the college. With two long raised beds (4’x42′ and 4’x34′) plus a double compost bin, the garden, tended by students and faculty, grows hundreds of pounds of vegetables that are donated to the NCC childcare center The Children’s Greenhouse, and local food banks and soup kitchens such as Food Not Bombs and The Mary Brennan INN.
Biology professor and avid organic gardener Birgit Woelker, along with faculty members Elizabeth Gaudino-Goering and Nicole Simon, started the project in 2012. With a grant from Whole Foods and other donations, the project began with different departments and clubs planting sections. When that led to inconsistency, the Sustainability Club, advised by Woelker and Simon, took over and now grows tomatoes, herbs, peppers and leafy greens, even during winter in hoop houses the students designed and built.
All of a sudden students, especially science students who never usually talk to each other, are making friendships and sharing recipes.
“I think community service is really important,” says Woelker. “Our students are so busy; they have families and work, and this is a commuter college, so it can be a lonely experience. Doing something like this for someone else is good, because they learn a lot of biology and make friends, so they make connections. They have also started getting interested in cooking. All of a sudden students, especially science students who never usually talk to each other, are making friendships and sharing recipes.”
So all summer, while so many other students are at the beach or sleeping in, a half-dozen regulars put in their time watering and harvesting for others. Even though not earning credits, they are reaping rewards. And stay tuned; a new food pantry will be opening on campus and Timmy’s Garden will likely collaborate.
For more information visit Timmy’s Garden at Nassau Community College.
Full disclosure: In addition to a frequent contributor to Edible Long Island, Natalia de Cuba Romero has been a full time lecturer at NCC for eight years.