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US (PA): University welcomes tower gardens

Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania has recently welcomed a new sustainability initiative in the form of Tower Gardens. Through this initiative, students can see the growth of plants occurring inside the Audrey Hirt Academic Center.

Shannon Meyers, Mercyhurst alumnus from the class of 2020, is also the developer of the Tower Garden program at Mercyhurst. “While some plants, like peppers or cucumbers, grow better outdoors in the dirt compared to the Tower Garden, leafy greens like lettuce and kale thrive in the Tower,” said Meyers.

Another important element of the Tower Garden is that they are community-supported agriculture (CSA). This means that the gardens are not only sustainable, but through community maintenance, they can continue to involve the Mercyhurst community. “What I love about the Towers is that at surface level, it seems like it’s only about public health or sustainability, but it’s so much more than that,” said Meyers.

She elaborated by saying that business majors can learn about how to run a CSA, and intelligence students can learn about the risks of climate change and how supply chains are in effect. Even art students can learn from tower gardens as there are currently art installations that touch upon food insecurity.

The program has also started to venture outside of the Mercyhurst community through the Tower Garden Lending Program started by Meyers. Meyers said of the program, “The purpose of the lending program is to give an opportunity to city of Erie non-profit organizations and Erie County K12 public schools to use Tower Gardens as a learning tool at an affordable price.”

“In addition to borrowing one or more towers, organizations/schools will have access to resources through the University to assist with the implementation of the program, setting up, and the maintenance and facilitation of learning.” The Tower Garden program also helps Erie, as Erie is not only an urban center but also has a shortened growing season.

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