Grace Jordan, Campus Carrier arts & living editor
Numerous faculty and staff members live on Berry’s campus and have made the houses here their own. One such house, Dogwood Cottage, used to be inhabited by Brian Campbell, professor of anthropology, and his family. They turned their land into a thriving farm with animals and plants alike.
“My family used to live up on Mountain Campus,” Campbell said. “We used to live in Dogwood Cottage and eight years ago when we moved in there, I turned it into a research garden. We had chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits, all these animals. It was a full-on functional farm and it was for research, for education. Students would go and visit. There’s lots of gardens, fruit trees, etc.”
However, due to extenuating circumstances, the Campbell household had to move off campus and students from Berry then moved into Dogwood.
“We moved off campus to live near my in-laws, to take care of my mother-in-law about a year and a half ago,” Campbell said. “So, we left Dogwood Cottage and then students moved in, so it is now a service cottage. It’s called Dogwood Farmstead service cottage. Students that want to run a farm moved in and get that experience of living on a little farm.”
When the pandemic hit, students were evacuated and there was no one to take care of the gardens or animals. The animals eventually found a new home and new students moved in this fall to resume caring for the land. Yet, according to Campbell, it is not enough.
“Dogwood has four students living there now, one is an RA, three are there as a service cottage,” Campbell said. “They put in about three hours a week. But it’s just not enough, there’s a lot to be done.”
Because of the need for more workers for the garden, Campbell has decided to open it up to the Berry community.
“What we envisioned was we could start a garden club in which we invited anyone that lives on campus, staff, faculty, and students to come out and join the garden club a couple times a month, maybe once a month,” Campbell said. “And then the students living there have experience and can teach. I will join them, and we’ll just show people what’s going on in the garden and how to harvest, how to plant, how to weed, how to do what needs to be done.”
The garden provides students with communal garden beds as well as garden beds that can be designated for one person.
“We’re going to designate several garden beds as community garden so then people who want to come regularly, they can say I want to designate a whole plot as my own,” Campbell said. “And if they do then it will be their little spot. Otherwise, it will be more communal, where if you come out and you work then you can take stuff. So, it’s a fenced in garden on campus that’s very fertile and well managed, but it needs more attention.”
The community garden offers a generous space of land and multiple fruit trees.
“It’s a weird space, it’s kind of all over the place,” Campbell said. “So, the main fenced in area is 60’ by 60’, something like that. There’s a bunch of raised beds all throughout and there’s fruit trees all throughout it and herbs and stuff planted. It’s not like a typical garden, it’s what we call an agroecological garden. It’s where farming is mimicking ecology. Rather than fighting against nature, it’s the idea that you look at ecology and the way different species interact, and you try to recreate that in your farming practices.”
Among the herbs and plants are multiple trees that offer different types of fruit.
“We have kind of unique, locally adapted species,” Campbell said. “So Pawpaws are the largest native north American fruit. They are really tasty, they’re like a mango-banana kind of thing. They look like a tropical fruit tree. So those are growing there, and elderberry, we’ve got lots of figs.”
Students can work in the garden, harvest different plants and fruits, take them home with them and help distribute the harvested food to local shelters.
“We just want to reach out and if anyone is interested in it, they can come out and learn,” Campbell said. “If they know what they are doing they can just come out and help and contribute. We are thinking more hands make for an easier work. There’s plenty of food that we are not getting harvested and if they want to take it home that’s great, if they want to help us get it to our community partners that need it, then that would be great, too.”
There will be an interest meeting March 18 from 5:30 to 6:15 at Dogwood Cottage on Mountain Campus. It is a white house located on the right side of the road near the entrance to the Old Mill.