Jane Klug, Black Hills State University director of student services, directs student volunteers in the BHSU community garden.
Established in 2008, the Black Hills State University community garden has been generating produce for the campus and is one of many initiatives that establish the University as a leader in sustainable efforts. The garden has generated more produce each successive year, with vegetables used in the campus dining facility and also at special events on campus where food is served.

The garden has gone from being overrun by weeds in its first year, to producing more than 1,300 pounds of produce last year, with plans to produce even more this year especially with this season’s rain and warm weather. Last year, a part-time student intern helped garden volunteers install an irrigation system and collect data on what vegetables the garden produced. This year the volunteers are also keeping track of hours worked, as more students are involved this year than ever before, according to Dr. Jane Klug, BHSU director of student services.

Last year, the 100 ft. x 70 ft. garden produced 35 pounds of cherry tomatoes, 275 pounds of regular tomatoes, 155 pounds of broccoli and cauliflower, and hundreds of pounds of zucchini and cucumbers Volunteers also added some raspberries. This year, a fourth of the garden is planted with squash.

The community garden and green house is not the only place Klug and volunteers have used their green thumbs. There is an herb garden beneath the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union wind turbine and Klug and volunteers added a smaller plot behind the Student Union last year which contains tomatoes, squash, broccoli, kale, and strawberries. According to Klug, the garden volunteers are planning on expanding the plot behind the Student Union, and giving the main garden a break next year.

Klug noted that while the amount of the garden’s produce pales in comparison to the amount utilized by dining services every year, the produce has helped supplement the dining services and is often used in main dishes for special events such as the Madrigal Dinner. These efforts serve as an educational tool   about the University’s commitment to sustainability, and also as an inspiration for others to produce their own food, Klug said.

“We’re committed to sustainability. Hopefully if somebody gets the chance to see what we’re doing here on campus, then maybe they’ll go out and plant something,” Klug says.  “We hope we’re planting seeds, literally and figuratively.”