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NMU students get back to basics

May 22, 2009
By MIRIAM MOELLER Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - The empty field between Northern Michigan University's Jacobetti Center and Sugarloaf Avenue may get some color next summer.

A group of NMU students are currently trying to create a garden to grow organic foods and provide the campus and Marquette community with another option to choose from when they buy fresh vegetables.

"I think it (would) be great to get more college students to buy organic foods," said Shannon Upton, group organizer.

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The group is proposing to create a 10,000-square-foot garden on the west side of NMU's Jacobetti Center. The garden would serve as a way to teach others about organic gardening and soil maintenance, while providing farmers a place where they can receive education on new and experimental organic farming methods, Upton said.

"A lot of other campuses are doing it," she said, adding that Michigan State University is one college with an organic garden.

The students also hope that the garden could become a place where professors and area public school teachers could bring their students to teach them about growing food naturally and locally. Furthermore, they hope to be able to sustain the garden financially by selling the produce harvested.

"As of right now, we'd be selling it at the local farmers markets or directly from the garden," Upton said, cautioning that the garden is not intended to create a competition for other local farmers.

After submitting a business proposal to NMU's master planning committee, the students hope that the garden is approved in time for them to break ground this summer.

"Hopefully the first growing season would be next summer," Upton said.

A branch of the student group Students for Sustainable Living, the organic garden group, is eager to spread the word about taking care of the health of the planet by investing in more sustainable ways of life.

"Society is moving away from conventional agriculture," said Erica Lensink, member of both groups. "(Organic gardening) is a growing field."

The students are working with area farmers, professors and local business consultants to get the project off the ground.

"We're trying to get more people involved," Upton said.

For more information, call Upton at 616-915-3254 or e-mail at



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