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Students learn how to create food security and multistory gardens

Story and images provided by Jennifer Sklarew


A group of students pose with their instructor in a garden.
EVPP 480 students Alicia Morgan (ESP), Victoria Martin (ESS), Justin Murdock (ESS), and Misty Knight (ESP) with Jennifer Sklarew and their completed multistory garden.

On April 12, 2024, ESP assistant professor Jennifer Sklarew collaborated with Dr. Constance Gewa of the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, Kit Goldfarb of SANGO-Kenya, and Evance Okoth, Project Officer and head of Kenya-based SANI-Kenya’s Agricultural Department, to create a food security and multistory garden building workshop for EVPP 480 Sustainability in Action students. 

Via Zoom from Kenya, Mr. Okoth explained to students the food security and sustainability benefits of multistory gardens and provided instructions on how to construct the gardens. These vertical container gardens can hold up to 120 leafy green plants, helping to combat food insecurity and provide options for vertical farming in space-constrained locations. The containers utilize materials that can be found in nature, such as rocks and sticks, as well as recycled materials such as coffee sacks and canned good canisters. The design also employs natural pesticides such as insect repelling plants. 


Instructor and students pose in a garden.
Jennifer Sklarew with EVPP 480 students Alex Reyes (ESS), Caroline Miller (ESP) and Jordan Jenkins (ESS) , after constructing the first multistory garden with classmate Zach Lane (ESS, not  pictured).

Overseen by ESP assistant professor Sklarew and graduate teaching assistant Luke Cannon, the EVPP 480 students built two multistory gardens featuringspinach and kale. The project was funded by a Mason Impact MICRO grant. The class plans to donate the greens to communities that need access to fresh, leafy greens. In addition, based on this experience, the students can train food insecure community members to build their own multistory gardens. 

Fall '23 ESP alum Kloe Jenkins, who is now an intern at Waterpenny Farm, helped to source the plants for the project.