Inch-by-inch, college students grow their garden


Correction appended


Four Manhattan College students ducked before rows of 30-gallon storage totes and drywall buckets on Saturday, drilling holes in the plastic that will soon support a rooftop garden.

Nearby, yellow T-shirts lay on the floor of the parking garage just east of the intersection of Manhattan College Parkway and Broadway. In a few weeks, the neon cloth will be stuffed between water reservoirs and crops, wicking water into produce growing on the concrete roof.

After months of planning, a group of Manhattan College seniors began constructing an irrigation system for the college’s second student-run garden. Nathan Hunter, a senior studying marketing and environmental studies, said MC’s sustainability committee began brainstorming ways to green the campus this February. Mr. Hunter, a committee member and president of the Green Club, said he proposed expanding the garden near the East Hill dorm onto the sixth-floor parking garage roof. The college budgeted $3,000 for the project, which Mr. Hunter and fellow students began putting toward soil, glue, seeds and other equipment this June.

“My whole spiel or background is urban gardening. I’ve never built a garden before though,” Mr. Hunter, 21, of Windsor, Conn. said. “This is great because it’s just vacant space.”

During the first harvest, students plan to use 275-square-feet of the 2,300-square-foot roof to grow watermelon, strawberries, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, squash and other summer foods. Flowers will be included to attract bees  to pollinate the produce. When fall comes, they plan to grow broccoli, lettuce, pumpkins and beans on the rooftoop.  

Once the garden is established, Mr. Hunter said he plans to get the Green Club involved in tending the greens and hopes to expand the garden across the roof.

“Initially it will be for Gourmet Dining, our food provider. In the long run, we’d love to have a farmer’s market or donate to food shelters ... maybe outside of this area because it’s wealthy,” Mr. Hunter said.

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