Paul Weber, a freshman from Mapleton, Iowa, looks over the community garden on campus. Weber helped work the soil when school started. Photos by Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Matthew Pangborn’s 3-year-old son toddles out to the family’s wildly overgrown garden to pluck cherry tomatoes off the vine and pop them into his mouth like a piece of candy.
Pangborn, an English professor, was heartened to see students sharing in that experience at Briar Cliff University.
On campus, a small garden thrived in the fall.
“Our main goal, our ultimate goal is to have a big, community garden.”
— Dr. Matthew Pangborn, community garden co-creator
Tucked between a dormitory and the student center, a plot planted in May bore ripe raspberries, sapling apple trees and dwarf cherries. Beans, popcorn, pumpkins and squash.
“Our main goal, our ultimate goal is to have a big, community garden,” Pangborn said.
Shortly after the fall semester started, freshman Paul Weber surveyed the greens and spotted an apple core among the stalks of corn. It’s compost, he said. Someone’s helping the garden grow.
The test site was planted using permaculture principles, which favor organic methods of gardening such as sheet mulching, composting and companion planting.
Just a few days earlier, on a hot summer day, Weber helped spread horse manure across the soil.
In a way, it reminded him of home, a family farm in Mapleton, Iowa. There’s something soothing about going outside and tending to nature.
“It’s a good thing to relieve stress,” he said.
The campus garden not only promotes health and wellness but also hands-on learning and community connections.
Now that interest among students has been established, work is expected to begin on a larger plot measuring about 40 by 120 feet, allowing enough room for neighbors, students and staff members to grow fruits and vegetables.
Pangborn envisions the proposed community garden also will provide excess produce for the Food Bank of Siouxland.