VCU students' venture branches out "Though I love living in the city, sometimes I just want an escape. I want to get my hands dirty and produce food on my own," says Andrew Alli, a rising senior environmental-studies major at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alli, who grew up in Richmond, found other students who shared his interest in gardening. He proposed the idea of a club to the university's student board last fall, and the Gardening Club of VCU was formed.
To find open land, Alli and other club members prowled the Richmond area for a large vacant lot. Riding his bicycle home from school one day last August, Alli noticed such a lot off South Belmont Avenue. Without thinking twice, he knocked on the door of the house nearby. It turned out that the owner, Elaine Tucker-Haviland, had been working on her own small garden and welcomed the VCU students' help.
The Gardening Club has attracted 35 members, with about 15 participants doing the bulk of the work. Everything is grown organically, using sustainable techniques such as composting. "We grow what is needed without leaving a big footprint in the process," Alli says.
Active members have dibs on the produce, but because the garden is producing more than they can use, they have begun selling vegetables, fruit and herbs to friends and neighbors, with Alli delivering the items from a trailer attached to his bike. The club also is selling produce at the Byrd House Market off South Linden Street in Oregon Hill on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 7 p.m.
To find out more about the club, e-mail Alli at email@example.com .