UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Even in the cold, gray of winter in western Pennsylvania, the fresh green of new life can be found growing on a hilltop at Penn State Beaver.
With funding from a Penn State seed grant designed to implement agriculture and food systems initiatives at the Beaver and Behrend campuses, and with sweat equity from staff and students from Beaver, Behrend and University Park, a 96-foot-long high tunnel was constructed at Penn State Beaver last August. Located in a grassy area behind the campus residence hall, the greenhouse-like high tunnel is the largest at any Penn State location and offers enough protection from the elements to allow students to grow produce year-round.
“We will be harvesting greens all through the winter, mostly salad greens and herbs,” said Angela Fishman, an associate teaching professor of mathematics at Penn State Beaver who oversees the campus garden. “The high tunnel has allowed us to really open up the whole concept of gardening.”
The idea of the campus garden is evolving at Penn State, with gardens serving as living laboratories for interdisciplinary learning and hubs of activity for community engagement. With the University implementing a funding model to develop initiatives that align with Penn State’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, a two-year, $158,000 seed grant was awarded in 2017 to pilot the Sustainable Food Systems Program at the Beaver and Behrend campuses, in support of the plan’s priority to transform education.