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The new South Carolina State University Organic Community Garden was officially launched at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 13.

S.C. State President James Clark expressed his excitement about the garden and the potential for it to bring the Orangeburg community together.

“I grew up on a farm. I grew up getting my hands dirty. I know what the dirt is like. I know what the plants are like. When people grew food, they shared," Clark said. "It brings families and communities together.”

Brandon Galloway, a S.C. State senior civil engineering major, formed the Environmental Action Club two years ago with the intentions of initiating a recycling program, an organic food garden and composting on campus.

Since then, the club has facilitated healthy eating workshops, helped start organic gardens at local schools and served as host to campus cleanups after home football games. The club has evolved into the S.C. State Environmental Action Group.

“My hope for this garden is that it become a pilot, or model, garden to expand into a massive-scale food garden," Galloway said.

A South Carolina State University press release states, “The raised beds garden will serve as test plots to study the feasibility of growing healthy produce for persons with limited spaces during the three seasons of the year. The crops will be grown using sustainable/ecofriendly agricultural methods, and will also provide an opportunity for experiential learning for students. The primary goal of this project is to address the problem of food insecurity and food deserts within our community by providing awareness and increasing ... knowledge of the importance of access to fresh produce, healthy eating and its impact on population health outcomes, especially among the low wealth or impoverished communities."

"We plan to host a produce/farmers market on designated days on campus, once the garden crops are harvested," the release notes. "Additional produce/market days will be established at Jamison Pharmacy (on) alternating designated days to afford local residents better access to the harvested produce.”

Phil Ford, manager of policy, advocacy and community support with Eat Smart, Move More, describes his organization’s role in the community garden as a privilege to “give back."

“We want to make the healthy choice the easy choice. If we can touch one person’s life and make them healthier, we’ll do it," Ford said.

Eat Smart, Move More SC awarded the S.C. State garden project a $2,500 mini-grant.

The garden is a collaboration of partnerships and supporters who have provided in-kind, monetary and material donations. 

Galloway's club has evolved into the S.C. State Environmental Action Group and has partnered with Growing COB (Calhoun, Orangeburg, Bamberg), an organization that empowers communities, low-income households and schools by improving health through ensuring access to sustainable gardens, fresh food and education through community gardening.

The two organizations expressed gratitude for their contributions to the garden project to S.C. State President James Clark; RCCG Victory Temple Church; C&W Services; Lowe’s; Southeastern Housing Authority; Dr. Stanley Ihekweazu; Orangeburg Super Sod; Tri-County Health Network/RMC; the Orangeburg County Soil and Water Conservation District; Eat Smart, Move More SC; Jamison Pharmacy; S.C. DHEC; Carolina Fresh Farm and the Small Business Development Center at S.C. State.

The garden is located directly behind Hodge Hall on the S.C. State campus.

Those interested in volunteering with or making a donation to the project are asked to contact Dr. Florence Anoruo at fanoruo@scsu.edu.

Contact the writer: beyondmeasure2013@gmail.com.

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