The first lady of the University of South Carolina visited the community garden at the University of South Carolina Upstate on Wednesday.
Patricia Moore-Pastides, an accomplished author, cook and public-health professional, has been encouraging all of the regional campuses in the USC system to initiate a community garden. An author of two books, “Greek Revival: Cooking for Life” and “Greek Revival from the Garden: Growing and Cooking For Life,” Pastides-Moore has helped to make the gardens a reality by using proceeds from her books to support healthy initiatives, such as the community garden at USC Upstate.
“One of the biggest reasons for starting community gardens was to fight the food deserts in South Carolina,” said Moore-Pastides. “I wanted our students to have that experience of growing their own foods and being able to make healthier food choices.”
The first section of the community garden at USC Upstate opened in June 2013 and through funding from the Pastides Health and Sustainability Fund, a secondary area, now called the Pastides Garden, was added in 2015.
“The first garden was really the idea of two former students who thought the garden would be a way of cross-pollinating people from across campus,” said Chris Bender, associate professor of chemistry, who has been instrumental in helping the garden project grow.
“Our hope is that the garden would allow those who participate to be able to harvest what they are growing and then to donate any extra to the SNAC pantry on campus or even local agencies that could use the produce.”
With the grant from the health and sustainability fund, faculty and students worked together to construct the Pastides Garden. The money was used to purchase soil, fencing and materials to build the raised beds.
Bender explained what was in each of the plots at this point and while it’s still early in the season, onion stems and leaves from peas, tomatoes and strawberries are already above the dirt. “It’s a great start,” Moore-Pastides said, as she as she surveyed the raised garden beds. She inquired about the needs of the community garden, what they envisioned for the future and what she could do to help the project continue to grow.
Through the organic vegetable garden at USC, Moore-Pastides has been able to provide food for university events and the Healthy Carolina Farmers’ Market which operates on campus each week. She said the gardens also has helped to increase plant-based dining for presidential events at USC by working closely with the university food service provider to improve healthy food choices on campus.
Spaces in the USC Upstate garden are available for adoption at no cost to individual students, staff, faculty or small groups on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once a bed is adopted, the group will be given access to tools to help them plant and maintain their garden. For more information, contact Chris Bender at (864) 503-5755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.