In about three weeks time, the summer solstice will occur, marking the beginning of summer. Many students staying in Marquette will be hitting up the beach, throwing Frisbees, laying in the sun, and just generally enjoying the activities that the Marquette landscape has to offer. And with all of this abundant sunshine at our disposal, the potential for growing healthy vegetables is great.
Kristen Swiech, a senior human centered design major at NMU, uses her aloe vera plant, located in her living room, for both decorative and medicinal purposes.
“It helps decorate my apartment and is also reliable at the same time, because it helps heal my sun burns.”
Swiech also has two other plants that she grows from her windowsill.
“It’s nice that I can grow small plants like mint leaves from my window sill because I’m too busy in the summer time to grow an actual garden. So instead of gardening being a serious thing, it’s a nice little hobby, sitting in a pot on my windowsill.”
While students like Swiech use methods such as indoor gardening for decoration and recreation, NMU Geography professor Stephen DeGoosh uses his entire front lawn as a self-sustainable garden. It’s a matter of choosing to eat and live healthier, he said.
“I think it’s becoming essential. I think we’re facing a huge crisis with respect to energy. Most of the food that ends up in the stores of Marquette County comes from at least 1500 miles away. When you rely on the grocery store, you have no idea who produced the food, or how it got there,” DeGoosh said.
If students can’t find a place to do their own gardening, finding people to share soil with isn’t hard to do, he said.
“I have students who are growing gardens for the summer, and even though they don’t have their own property or yard, they’re finding people who do, and who are willing to let them garden,” DeGoosh said. “A lot of people are willing to let them do it without any cost. It’s a really good way to get started, because they can learn the skills from somebody who’s already doing it.”
Marquette’s Food Co-Op sells several different varieties of seeds and soils for gardening. Sarah Monte, the education coordinator of the store, said that self-education is a good way to start if one is interested in starting a garden.
“We sell a lot of books, so for someone who’s just getting started in gardening, it would be a good idea to check out a good selection of informational books. You’d be amazed what you could learn if you read a good book about it,” she said
Gardening to be self-sustainable could be financially beneficial to the gardener, she said.
“At first, when you’re getting involved in gardening, it can seem a little expensive, but once you get into it, and you understand how to grow something a little more effectively, and you’ve made the initial investment, then yes, you definitely will save money”, Monte said.
According to the Co-Op U.P. Farm Directory, there are 65 farms scattered across the U.P that supplies the Farmer’s Market and Marquette Co-Op. According to Monte, many of the seeds and soil products come from these farms.
“When your food is fresh, more nutrients will be made available for your body”, she said. “So, getting something right out of the garden will taste the best because there’s more in it for you.”