Sending Off Our STARTs

We’ve been watching Dr. Sherrie Steiner’s Great Greenhouse Giveaway START project grow all semester. Steiner estimates that more than 100 students and faculty have been involved in the project. Students in Dr. Atefeh Mohammadpour’s Sustainable Construction class developed plans for a raised vegetable garden. Faculty and students in the Department of International Language and Culture Studies translated care instructions into six languages. In the university greenhouse, students from the Department of Sociology, Sociology Student Association, Lambda Phi Eta, and Anthropology Club volunteered to grow 260 vegetable plants under the supervision of Steiner, Luis Nuñez (program assistant, sociology major), and Eric Evans (master gardener, president of Blackford County Concerned Citizens). Now the plants are grown, and it’s time for them to go out into the world.

On April 21, Dr. Sherrie Steiner and a team of students helped out during Hartford City’s Earth Day celebrations. Student volunteers picked up litter throughout the town, presented environmental research posters at the local junior high school, gave away 125 of the plants they grew on campus, and even helped at the grill during the city cook-out!

Last week, Nuñez coordinated the on-campus giveaway with the IPFW Food Bank. The team stood in front of Helmke library and gave away 75 plants (with care directions) to students on campus.

The final 60 plants went to Community Harvest in Fort Wayne. Community Harvest representatives were grateful for the plants, and commented that the inclusion of care instructions in different languages was extremely helpful for their demographic:  “Another wonderful thing provided by IPFW were growing and care instructions for the plants translated into several languages. Because the food bank serves clients from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, these especially came in handy so that all clients have access to these materials. The instructions have an impact far larger than this single plant distribution because they can be printed and re-used for other plant distribution projects as well.”

Nuñez commented on the success of this project, and how it taught him that “an idea, no matter how small it STARTs, has the potential to grow into a movement. It just needs people who believe in it.”

So if you read this and have one of the START plant starts, please share photos of your plant as it grows. We hope that this START project provided benefits for the community that will last the summer, and hopefully provide seeds for next year! And we will be doing the same on campus because on Friday, April 27, the Sociology Club voted to repeat the greenhouse project next year.

For more info on the project or how you can get involved, contact Steiner.

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