Columbia, SC – Columbia College has a new club in town, Gardening Club (CCGC)! Columbia College senior, Aaleeyah Brimmer is the founder of the Columbia College garden and member of the CCGC. Since beginning this new initiative, she has enlisted the help of some faculty and staff members on campus: faculty adviser, Dr. Joyce Fields, Columbia College horticulturist, John Long, and ecology professor, Dr. Kirt Moody. They have helped Aaleeyah get this project off the ground and moving in a sustainable direction.
Dr. Fields gave Aaleeyah the outlet to execute her proposal in the LA 301 course, Women, Leadership, and Social Change, offered at the College. Once the proposal was complete, Aaleeyah reached out to Dr. Moody and Mr. Long to discuss the abandoned greenhouse at the college. When they realized the greenhouse would need $7000 worth of updates, Mr. Long offered Aaleeyah an alternative location.
“Luckily, John Long was already working on building a garden by the president's office. He encouraged me to use the garden he created for the club,” said Aaleeyah Brimmer, founder of the Gardening Club and Columbia College garden. “In addition to plot he already started, Mr. Long imparted some of his knowledge about gardening on the CCGC members, so we could better maintain the garden and understand what produce we were growing.”
On Monday, December 5th, veggies were harvested from the CCGC garden by new restaurateur and community partner, Bonita Clemons. Ms. Clemons opened a new restaurant, Rare Variety Café, on North Main, and utilizes the CCGC produce in her restaurant. Ms. Clemons is no stranger to the good work Columbia College does for the community; she has been a long-time community friend of the PLACE Fellows Program. Columbia College is dedicated to the revitalization efforts of North Main, and hopes many more partnerships will be born from those efforts.
“Eventually I would hope the community garden is more than a garden and it helps to bring the local community together with the school,” muses Aaleeyah Brimmer. “It will help educate and feed the family and students in the area as well as bring valuable resources to those in the area who otherwise do not have the access to fresh produce daily.”
Students, as much as the Columbia College Administration, understand the need to revitalize the North Main area, and they work endlessly towards those efforts by bringing awareness to the needs of the North Main area. The community garden is not the first initiative that has brought the Columbia College community and North Main community together. Mayor Benjamin taught “CC in the City: The Impact of the North Main Redevelopment” class last Spring. On April 30, 2018, that class hosted the College’s first College + Community event that brought food trucks and a dance celebration to campus.
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Columbia College was founded in 1854 and continues to serve as an institution for higher education with approximately 1,200 students, female and male, in both undergraduate and graduate courses. Columbia College prepares students personally and professionally for success through strong liberal arts and professional programs emphasizing service, social justice, and leadership development.