The EC Sol Food Grow-Op was created in 2010. The garden is a meticulously organized and colorful piece of Eckerd’s campus. In addition to raised beds growing herbs, fruits and vegetables, the garden has banana trees and a huge compost heap with food waste from the dining halls. The farm produces kale, spinach, cowpeas, beets, multiple types of basil, zucchini, sweet potatoes, broccoli, purple cauliflower, onions, a number of tomato varieties, tomatillos, pole beans, radishes, carrots, lemon cucumbers, cranberry hibiscus, and lemongrass.

College: Eckerd College

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Size: 1.85 acre (approximately 80,586 square feet)

Sales and Distribution: The students sell some produce to Bon Appetit at Eckerd College. Student gardeners also take the produce home and give it to employees of the college.

Management Structure: The president of the garden club manages tasks from strategizing how to keep soil from being depleted, to assigning specific tasks to volunteers during their garden shifts. The farm often has over 90 volunteers over the course of the year.

Unique Features: Student farmers have planted 11 native trees that will grow to provide habitat for creatures of all sizes and shade for future generations of garden-lovers. Students even tend banana trees on the farm!

The student farmers also pride themselves on creating and maintaining an “outdoor classroom” to study applied plant physiology, plant-animal interactions, and the intricacies of the organic garden ecosystem. It’s a valuable place to learn to grow food sustainably, as well as a source of bountiful organic produce.

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