AMS introduces Lettuce Love Gardens

Commissioner of Environmental Sustainability discusses sustainable agriculture

The line-up of vegetables ensures each plant receives optimal sunlight.

Nestled outside the LaSalle building is the AMS’s newest environmental initiative: the Lettuce Love Gardens.

Emily Rolph, AMS commissioner of environmental sustainability (CES), introduced the garden when she stepped into the role this year. Lettuce Love Gardens is filled with a line-up of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, kale, romaine and brussel sprouts—they’re all grown for the produce section of the AMS food bank.

“A big part of sustainability is continuing to work together,” Rolph said in an interview with The Journal. “Not separate, siloed action, but collective action trying to work together for a common goal.”

Growing your own garden is fun and has plenty of benefits—no prior experience necessary, Rolph said.

 She never gardened before starting the Lettuce Love Garden, but YouTube videos and her interest in sustainable agriculture helped the garden prosper.

“It's just amazing what I have learned from this experience and it's just a very simple garden. If I can do it, really anyone can do it,” Rolph said.

There have been a few challenges along the way, including hungry bunnies and a recent bout of plant disease. The plants are hardy and regenerative, but delicate and susceptible to climate change and disease.

Rolph checks on the garden daily, reconnecting her to the natural origins of food.

“It’s great to understand where our food comes from, and how long it takes for it to grow.”

According to Rolph, there are broader environmental benefits of starting your own garden, such as reduced transportation emissions.

“We don’t always think about our food systems and agriculture as always being part of like climate change. But it both impacts climate—and is impacted by climate change—in kind of a circle.”

In the winter, Rolph aims to germinate her seeds first rather than acquiring already germinated seeds. Then, she can expand the garden with a second box.

“I hope it can grow further in terms of involved community,” Rolph shared. “I would also want [volunteers] to be able to take food from it too.”

Rolph shares updates of the garden on the CES Instagram, documenting the behind-the-scenes process. She’s excited by the public’s interest in the garden.

“I hope this continues for years to come, and it gets better even after I leave.”

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