MSU garden

Two autonomous ‘Farmbots’ will maintains their own 5-foot by 10-foot bed in the Mississippi State community garden.

Starkville The college in Starkville’s full name is The Mississippi State University for Agriculture and Applied Science. In accordance with the second and less-publicized part of that name, MSU is hosting ‘Green Week’ this week.

On Monday, the university opened a community garden on campus to forward its mission of helping feed the world while serving as an illustration of the three pillars of a land-grant institution learning, research and service.

“(The garden) exemplifies Mississippi State University’s commitment to solving one of the world’s greatest challenges – food insecurity,” school president Mark E. Keenum said. “This garden will serve as a valuable resource for students, faculty and staff as they grow healthy food and conduct research and outreach, all of which will contribute to our overall efforts to eradicate hunger.”

Keenum is a former Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As part of ‘Green Week,’ Mississippi State students and staff are cleaning a stream, sorting recycling and hosting a sustainability fair. Along with providing fresh and healthy food, the garden will double as a living classroom for MSU students.

The garden, which is located adjacent to the EPA rain garden at the landscape architecture complex on Stone Boulevard, includes eight accessible planters and 19 large raised planters. Approximately 50 students, faculty and staff were selected as the first gardeners earlier this fall and now manage beds flush with a mix of fall produce.

As a teaching opportunity for agricultural technology, the garden also includes two autonomous farming robots, or ‘Farmbots.’ Operated by the student group Students for Sustainable Campus, the robots will each maintain their own 5-foot-by-10-foot bed.

To promote sustainability, two 2,000 gallon cisterns harvest rain water and condensation from a nearby air conditioning unit. Compost for use in the garden is collected from dining halls.

“The MSU Community Garden provides an excellent opportunity for our students to be involved in food production at the local level,” dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences George Hopper said. “This not only teaches valuable life lessons but encourages students to be ambassadors for agriculture locally, nationally and globally.”

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