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Garden Club Membership Grows Along with Crops

More the 30 students showed up to clean the garden, mix compost and plant fall crops at the club’s first outing in September
Amelie Van Hess
Alaina Stratton, a leader of the gardening club, and Lili McArdle, the SGA president, at the club plot at Huertos Montemadrid on Calle de Eduardo Barreiros.

SLU-Madrid’s gardening club has kicked off its second semester with over 40 new members and a change to fall crops.

This semester, the Community Garden Club is made up of over 100 members. More than 30 students showed up to participate in the club’s first outing of the semester, the weekend of Sept 19.

Members cleaned up the garden, mixed compost and planted new fall crops.

The best part is touching dirt.

— Quinn Riordan

“The best part of the club is touching dirt,” joked Quinn Riordan, an international studies and Spanish student at SLU-Madrid.

The garden is maintained year round and rotates different plants depending on the season. Currently, the garden has 15 new plants which cover half of the plot’s area. As fall begins, the club is planting produce that lends better to the cold weather, such as leafy greens and root vegetables like radishes.

Although the club is sponsored by SLU-Madrid, its garden is not located on campus. The club’s plot is located in the zone of Usera, South of Madrid center and is one of 60 that can be rented at the Huertos Montemadrid at the Centro Ponce de León near Avenida de Córdoba.

A radish unearthed earlier this fall at the Community Garden Club plot. (Amelie Van Hess)

The club’s founder, Ella Jane, an environmental studies student, established the club during spring of 2023, her final semester at SLU-Madrid. Since then, leadership has been handed over to Alaina Stratton, a senior graduating this fall. Mónica Pérez-Bedmar, professor in the department of natural and earth sciences, supervises the club and SLU-Madrid’s student life department provides funding for the club, which the club uses to help pay the 60 euro monthly rent of their off-campus plot.

The club’s expenses total 720 euros per euro year, including the plot rental, crops, equipment, compost, soil, metal tools, and activities, said MacKenzie O’Leary, a Community Garden Club leader and sophomore at SLU-Madrid. The standard club budget covers about one-third of that cost. Students have sold the vegetables they have grown to pay for the remaining expenses, she said. Club leaders are petitioning for 300 euros more from the Student Government Association so they can cook or donate the vegetables instead.

New students are attracted to the club because it does not require a large time commitment, O’Leary said. Adding to the appeal, the club provides a welcoming space for students who have never gardened before and want to learn more about it, she added.

Members state that the club it has much more to offer than just the vegetables it cultivates, providing a sense of community and an excuse to connect with nature. As a long-standing member of the club, Riordan says that participation is especially rewarding because you are able to see the progress that the plants make throughout the semester.

Beyond tending to the garden, the club also plans to offer a farmers market once a semester, open to the whole student body. At the market, students will sell crops grown in the community garden, as well as crafts and goods made by students. The Community Garden Club hosts trips to the garden every Friday and Saturday throughout the fall semester and continues to accept new members.

The Community Garden Club is one of 40 clubs on campus, 10 of which were created in the past two semesters, according to the SLU-Madrid website.

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About the Contributor
Amelie Van Hess
Amelie Van Hess, Staff Writer and Staff Photographer
Amelie Van Hess, a junior, majors in communication with a minor in Spanish and Marketing. She has taken every journalism course offered at SLU Madrid.

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