Beaver Point, the physical location of the Center for Water Quality, is also home to the University of Lynchburg Community Garden. The garden offers an opportunity for students, alumni, professors, and members of the community to practice sustainable agriculture as well as expand their knowledge of gardening techniques. The garden sits on what used to be an old volleyball court; in 2016 it was converted into a fenced enclosure for seasonal crops and Lynchburg’s very own chickens.
Students in the Lynchburg Environmental Sustainability Society maintain the garden and care for the chickens. Dr. Laura Henry-Stone, environmental studies professor, established the garden and incorporates the project into the lab portion of the Sustainable Living course. The garden materials have been generously donated by Alumni or repurposed from other projects around campus. Members of the Lynchburg community have also come out to help students work and to offer gardening advice.
The garden’s nutrient rich topsoil was purchased through the sustainability fund of the College and is wonderful in facilitating plant growth. The underlying sand that was formerly the volleyball court provides drainage. The presence of crops and vegetation prevents erosion of what otherwise would have been exposed sand into surrounding waterways. A compost pile fertilizes the plants and adds nutrients back into the soil. Dr. Henry-Stone notes the garden provides a more natural habitat for the native ecosystem and surrounding wildlife and it is common to see monarch butterflies, woodpeckers, ospreys, and squirrels.
In the future, the Community Garden hopes to add other sustainability projects such as a rainwater tank attached to the Center for Water Quality that could provide water for crop irrigation. Rebuilding soil quality and education of sustainable agriculture continue to be at the forefront of the garden’s goals.