Every single subfield of anthropology looks at food as an important subject to study and review. Food plays an important role in culture and lifestyle. This is why professor Lindsey Powell brought an idea he had witnessed from his life in Philadelphia to WKU.
The experimental garden, located in Kereiakes Park off Fairview Ave., is entering its second year at WKU under Powell, an assistant professor of culture and visual anthropology.
Powell observed and worked in similar gardens in Philadelphia, where they were planted in abandoned lots so people could have fruits and vegetables without having to spend a large amount of money, like in a small market.
“I worked with an organization called Urban Tree Connection that dealt with the chronic problem of inner cities often having very poor nutrition standards,” Powell said.
The plots are rented from the park for $15 a plot. This summer, the students will be working in plots 43 and 44.
“It’s fun to interact with other groups growing ethnic foods,” Powell said.
Powell said he always took students to do field work, and this garden brings the fieldwork to the students.
Last summer, the experimental garden was a learning process. The students who worked on the project had to figure out how to deal with problems including pesticides and weeds.
Center City senior Claire Kelly said, “I didn’t expect it to be that hard.”
Kelly said she didn’t know pesticides could be extremely detrimental to crops, so she researched organic pesticides and made one.
“I sprayed it on the leaves of the potato plants, and the next day there weren’t any potato bugs or beetles,” she said. “The next day, I came back, and all the leaves were all shriveled. I don’t know if I did them in or if they got really dry.”
Students also learned about the crop department. A neighboring gardener told Kelly that the potato plants weren’t deep enough.
“They like lots of dirt,” Kelly said.
Monticello senior Ben Hutchison got involved with the garden because he kept hearing Powell discuss it in class and thought he could do it.
Hutchison said weather played a huge part of the garden.
“The weather was hellacious,” he said. “It rained all June. It went from really wet to really dry.”
Regardless of the hardships, Hutchison said he enjoyed working in the garden.
“What makes me tick is hard work,” he said. “I get to have my hands dirty.”
This summer they hope to have more students participating.
“The more bodies involved, the better in general,” Hutchison said.
“Being able to grow your own food is an accomplishment,” Kelly said.
The project is a community garden, and anything grown is shared with everyone.