Bellevue College not only has a designated sustainability department, but also two gardening clubs: Seeds of Hope, a faculty and staff-only club, and another one is student-based, known as Bite Me. The two clubs just started up this fall quarter and both are connected to each other.
Seeds of Hope is for BC instructors, staff and administrators to come and learn about the basics and some of the more advanced techniques in the art of gardening. According to the Seeds of Hope training manual, the club has two basic purposes: first, to help instructors incorporate gardening into their classes and lesson plans, and second, to also assist all BC employees with gardening techniques. Karrin Peterson is an English instructor and the main support in sponsoring and establishing Seeds of Hope as a program at BC. She took her class down to the garden where they planted seeds and checked the garden out. Afterwards her class wrote an essay on what they did and experienced. This is an example of how Seeds of Hope involves transferring gardening into a classroom, no matter the subject.
Peterson is also the faculty advisor for Bite Me, which is parallel to Seeds of Hope, because it also ties into gardening and sustainability. However, Bite Me is more focused on food security. Bite Me’s Facebook page explains its goal as a club: “The goal of our garden club is to teach students how to garden and about how our government is controlling what goes into our body.” The club also invites anyone who is interested in learning how to grow their own vegetables, learn about food justice or just enjoy food. According to Peterson, food security is having the ability to feed ourselves, rather than relying on foreign countries or big corporations. Bite Me also helps teach the lessons of food storage and intelligently using it in our day-to-day affairs. For example, Peterson saved roughly $1300 this summer season by using her personal garden.
Although Seeds of Hope is exclusive to BC faculty and staff, Bite Me is open for anyone and everyone. Peterson encourages anyone who’s even slightly interested to come stop by. There is no fee to join and the club is expecting to make some revenue off of the newly constructed garden, located west of the greenhouses, in the near future. Peterson predicts that in two growing seasons, the garden beds will make around $800. The club will also be selling the produce locally; saving potential customers nearly 50% compared to that of other large grocery chains.
The training manual of Seeds of Hope breaks down classroom introduction into four sessions. The first two sessions introduce garden-based learning and how to make a garden learning project sustainable and successful. Sessions three and four are geared toward more advanced methods of garden learning, such as ecological garden design, four-season gardening methods and increasing yields. More sessions will be created every other week based on interest and need.