Howard Community College students recently planted kale, green lettuce plants, carrots, beets, mustard greens, turnips, cilantro and dill seeds in their new community garden.

Once harvested, the food will go directly to the college’s food bank to allow for those in need to have access to fresh vegetables and herbs. Howard Community College has had the food bank, which is primarily for students, on campus for five years.

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Andrea Barnhart, the garden manager, said the garden “provides a great educational opportunity for students to grow vegetables,” as well as providing fresh vegetables to those in need.

“I think it’s also important for people to understand where their food is coming from,” she added.

HCC freshman Josiah Shoger is volunteering with the garden through the James W. Rouse Scholars Program, an honors and leadership program exclusively for recent high school graduates.

Shoger, 18, who is a visual arts major, was surprised to hear the college did not already have a garden because of its food bank.

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“I think the whole idea is great,” the Columbia resident said. “It helps the people get fresh food and gives volunteers a taste of volunteering.”

Shoger has helped lay out the garden’s rows and on a recent morning pulled grass and planted seeds.

“This is an idea that we have had for a few years, and it’s finally coming to fruition,” said Kathleen B. Hetherington, the college’s president.

“Poverty does exist in our county and half of our students receive some sort of financial aid.”

Fifty percent of fall 2018 students who are earning college credits have received some form of financial aid during their time at the college, according to HCC data.

The leftover food will be donated to the Maryland Food Bank, which has locations in Baltimore, Salisbury and Hagerstown.

Rachita Sinah, a freshman studying cybersecurity and general studies, volunteered at the garden with others in her poetry and short story English class.

“It was nice to help our school community,” the 17-year-old Laurel resident said. “Helping people that we are directly related with.”

Later in the summer, tomatoes and squash will be planted in the garden, Barnhart said.

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The plan is to grow 50 varieties of herbs, seeds and plants, she added. The garden was created with compost donated from the county’s composting facility.

Wednesday’s planting will be harvested in four to six weeks, Barnhart said. Follow along the garden’s progress on its Instagram account, @howardccgarden.

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