Nutritious and Delicious: Campus Garden Promotes Healthy Eating at HCC

HCC’s campus garden nourishes students and the community


Tanner Malinowski

HCC’s campus garden collaborates with the Fueling Dragons program and the HCC food pantry to provide students healthy and satisfying meals.

The HCC Center for Civic and Community Engagement has teamed up with the HCC Wellness Center and the HCC food pantry to establish a new campus garden.

Located next to Field 2, the garden serves to grow a variety of nutritious foods for students and others struggling with food insecurity.

After opening in March 2019, the garden has been revitalized since last fall and is now a place where students can volunteer and learn about the importance of eating locally and seasonally.

The warmer weather will provide ideal conditions for growing crops. Volunteers can help with harvesting, serving seeds, weeding, transplanting plants to their location and donating crops to the pantry.

Crops such as broccoli, leafy vegetables, potatoes and squashes are grown between June and October. Herbs, melons, berries and peas are also grown in the summer and early fall.

The food grown in the garden will be used to teach students how to prepare healthy meals.  

“The Fueling Dragons program incorporates food from the garden into meal kits for students,” said Tara Rupp, director of HCC’s Wellness Center. “[Students] can have access to a weekly recipe along with all the food to make the dish.” 

Additionally, Michelle Adamson, the garden coordinator, has worked with food pantry manager Tiffany Holtzman to provide students recipes and instructions for each of the ingredients to ensure they know how to prepare healthy meals. 

“I think the most impactful thing we do at the Wellness Center is [providing] the recipe meal kits,” said Holtzman, who added that the Wellness Center distributes 30 meal kits per week.

There are also cooking demos, home gardening workshops and outreach programs available for students in the food pantry to encourage healthy eating.  

“Any student who has an active student ID for that semester can access the food pantry,” said Holtzman. “We have all kinds of different offerings … in the food pantry, and we try to focus on providing more nutritious and healthier options.” 

Those involved in the collaboration have already enjoyed success, according to Rupp. “We did a survey, and more than 80% of students participating in the meal kit program said they are eating less fast food,” she said.

The campus garden is accepting student volunteers to help maintain the garden throughout the spring and summer. Three days per week, volunteers can help with mulching, planting and harvesting, among other opportunities.

Volunteering in the garden not only brings an opportunity to give back by donating food to those in need, but also serves as a chance to decompress by spending time outside.

“Staff members and other community members have joined in to help on workdays,” Adamson said, “[with] many of them noting positive effects on their mental health after a day spent outside in the garden serving [the community].”

Students struggling with food insecurity or making healthy food choices can contact the HCC food pantry through the HCC website.

Anyone who is interested in contributing food and personal care items, volunteering at the pantry or hosting a food drive, can contact the food pantry staff at [email protected].