After Hannah Grose ’13 walked across the stage outside of Pennsylvania Hall, the environmental science major got to work turning her senior capstone from a mere research project into an existent program.
What she has since created is the Gettysburg Battlefield Community Garden at Sherfy Farm, with produce supporting the local community’s families in need.
“When I was choosing a capstone project, I wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact,” said Grose. “I don’t know when the line was crossed that this project stopped being about the class and became more about the garden. When I graduated, it was no longer for a grade. It became my job.”
The day after graduation was the big planting day for the garden. After months of researching historic gardens, planning the layout and seeking the appropriate permissions and support, it was finally time to take the garden from an idea into something tangible. Plenty of volunteers helped with this stage of the project. In addition to being a student-led initiative, the garden represents an enthusiastic partnership that spans across the College and into the community.
Kim Davidson, the director of the College’s Center for Public Service (CPS), explains that the concept for this project was originally developed during a partnership workshop led by CPS well over a year ago. The goal of this workshop was to move beyond a partnership in which students act as volunteers and find new ways to allow for increased student involvement.
Much later, Grose became the project’s catalyst when she was searching for an idea for her capstone project.
While the credit for the garden goes to Grose and recent graduates Vanessa Curran ’13 and Kaitlynn Shawaryn ‘13 who also made this project their senior capstone, each of the community partners were able to provide something that enabled this garden to come to life.
For example, The Gettysburg Foundation, which works in conjunction with the National Park Service, owns the land on which the Sherfy Garden is located; the College’s Civil War Institute provided funding for the project; and the Center for Public Service managed it. Each organization came to the table with their own set of goals, but also provided an integral piece of the puzzle that enabled this garden to become a reality.
“This partnership speaks to the excitement generated by student projects and ideas,” said Davidson. “It illustrates the ability for organizations to come together and share resources for a project that would otherwise be unattainable.”
Grose agrees. “This garden shows how involved the College is in the community and the large amount of support it has for new ideas.”
The garden benefits the community in multiple ways. First, it is a living history project – all of the produce grown in the garden is consistent with the Civil War era, classifying the garden as living history or a historic garden. Furthermore, everything grown in the garden is then donated to Campus Kitchens, which uses the fresh produce to make food for lower income households. All of these efforts are aimed at combating food insecurity within the community. To date, the garden has donated over 250 pounds of fresh produce.
Food insecurity – or the availability of food and one’s access to it – is a huge problem in Adams County. One in ten households are food insecure. When focusing on households with children, the numbers jump to one in four. Grose sees the Sherfy Garden as being one part of the solution to an often overlooked problem.
According to Davidson, the garden is particularly notable because it is the only historic garden nationwide to donate its food to a Campus Kitchen. Most Campus Kitchen projects are lucky to have at least one source of fresh produce being consistently donated. The one tied to the College campus, however, has two – the Painted Turtle Farm and now the Sherfy Garden.
Grose doesn’t want to the project to stop with just one historic garden, though. “The idea is that eventually, all battlefield gardens will become community gardens. Right now, most gardens are just lawns, which is not historically accurate nor is it beneficial to the community. It is taking good land out of service. I’m hoping that this project will continue to grow until all of the gardens are put to good use.”
To learn more or get involved, contact Katie McCrea, the CPS program coordinator for the garden, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the CPS webpage. The Center for Public Service accepts volunteers to work the garden every Tuesday and Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803
Kasey Varner, communications and marketing intern
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