Turning over a new leaf: Volunteers refurbish campus garden



The Eastfield Harvester Bees baseball team helps clean out Eastfield’s community garden on Nov. 15.

CARMEN GUZMAN, Editor in Chief

Eastfield’s gardening committee is preparing the campus garden for reopening next spring.

Amber Pagel, English instructor and garden committee head organized the cleanup effort on Tuesday. Student volunteers, including the Eastfield Harvester Bees baseball team, cleared two years’ worth of overgrowth from the unkempt gardening plots between the W and T building.

“Everyone is helping to clear it, so it’s a good start,” Pagel said. “In the spring, we’ll be able to do a good planting.”

The garden was used to educate students about growing crops before closing due to the pandemic in 2020. When the campus shut down, no one could maintain the area.

“So sad that, after COVID, nothing was happening,” Pagel said. “The sustainability office has been in contact since the summer and we talked a lot.”

Amber Pagel, English instructor and garden committee head, helps volunteers work on the community garden. (RORY MOORE/THE ET CETERA)

Faculty and student organizations showed interest in revitalizing the campus garden, according to Pagel. She proposed clearing the garden – which gained the administration’s approval.

The committee plans to use the garden as an educational experience for students interested in gardening, and at least 10% of the harvests will go to the campus food pantry. The rest will go to the North Texas Food Bank.

“This is an amazing gift the school can give the community,” biology lab specialist Yolanda Shepard said.

Additional plans include a “butterfly garden to bring back the monarchs,” Shepard said.

Construction for a community beehive started in 2019, but those plans folded when Eastfield temporarily closed. The gardening committee intends to expand the garden and increase its visibility.

Students discarded brush onto large mounds, which will be converted into compost – more than enough to supply the current plots.

“Shoveling dirt isn’t always fun, but it’s for the community and beautiful campus,” baseball player Payton Poole said.

Students took to the soil with shovels and pickaxes, removing layers of neglect within the hour.

After removing all the deep roots and grass, Pagel instructed students to put weed barrier down.

“It’s cold already, but the goal is for students to have the experience of gardening and learn a skill they could use,” Pagel said.

With several students tilling the soil, Pagel lost count of all the student organizations present. The gardening committee is working to regrow the committee’s numbers ahead of the first planting.

“I’m really proud of them doing this,” Pagel said. “Seeing so many students coming out to do it is not only heartening, but also a testament to their eagerness and interest in being involved with something like this.”