While students cut through Jeffords Hall, they see various plants. Green and white, the colors of school spirit at Castleton University, can be seen everywhere this season.
Such a simple addition adds to the mood around campus.
“It is nice to see plants thriving inside during winter. When I first got here, I noticed how green everything is; plants everywhere is exactly how I picture Vermont — I love it,” said Carly Centenno, a freshman majoring in media and communication.
Other students said they notice and enjoy the extra green Jeffords offers.
“I think it’s like a pet with an absurdly less amount of effort. That splash of green in the winter months has to do something to combat seasonal feelings of dread,” said Ben Honsinger, a sophomore majoring in business.
Stephanie Hamel, a sophomore majoring in psychology and criminal justice, has been a devoted Garden Club member this year.
“There are so many benefits of plants and plant care. I think taking care of plants benefits my mental health tremendously. Being able to nurture and care for something gives me a sense of routine, and it is genuinely uplifting to watch them grow,” Hamel said, smiling.
Hamel said she also enjoys studying in the greenhouse. Centenno said she does too.
“In the fall, it’s just nice to be surrounded by the pretty flowers and plants,” Centenno said.
While the greenery impacts students’ mental health on campus, growing fresh vegetables may aid their physical health.
“At home, we have a greenhouse where we grow veggies and herbs year-round,” Honsinger said.
“I think it would be a great idea to let students at Castleton learn how to grow fresh herbs and veggies. Like some fresh mint for a mojito!” Centenno said.
Hamel talked about the person in charge of all the green.
“Mary Dreoge has been our biggest contribution to our plants on campus and is constantly taking care of the greenhouse,” Hamel said.
Garden Club President Emily Macias, a sophomore majoring in social work and sociology, agreed.
“Mary is the main person who cares for all the plants in the greenhouse. A small number of work-study students also help clean and water regularly. Mary and the club members are responsible for our gardens, while the staff cares for other plans around campus. This is also why we don’t have many plants on the residence side of campus. Mary and the rest of us club members have been working on getting groups of students to help maintain gardens to put all over campus,” Macias said.
Droege, however, deflected the praise.
“I don’t want to take credit for what they do,” she said humbly. “I’m the greenhouse manager, but I sort of adopted the garden; I want it to look nice.”
Droege also talked about her favorite upcoming activity: Earth week. It will feature an open house that helps build community while tidying it up.
Droege and Macias both noted the Garden Club contributes through work study jobs, sometimes paid. They also will regularly host events that allow all students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to help do things like weeding the gardens.
“The biggest challenge is growing season starts about the time when school ends, so if any students that live nearby and will be here over the summer want to help, they may even be able to get paid,” Droege said.
The garden is where the community is built, and even if you’re suffering from “plant blindness” – as Droege calls it – beautifying the campus should be sufficient. As the weather begins to warm, she urges people get out there, volunteer, and get your hands dirty to better our campus!
Check out the Garden Club’s Instagram @castleton_gardenclub.
or email Emily Vacias, Garden Club president, for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
“The greenhouse is always open to the public if the doors are unlocked. You can access the greenhouse through Jeffords Hall, everybody is welcome! It is never reserved,” Droege said.
The club will also be hosting an unveiling of a new sculpture outside Jeffords on April 20 at 12:30 p.m.