Gardening and electrical engineering don’t have many things in common. However, for sophomore Jamey Weyenberg, the idea to create a sustainable growing club utilizing his education in electrical engineering was a clear vision from the beginning.
GrOSU, a sustainable growing club at Ohio State, was founded by Weyenberg in the spring of last year as a way to integrate techniques from his engineering degree with gardening.
“Our goal is to give students more knowledge on practices of sustainable growing techniques and then help communities around Columbus with that sort of knowledge as well,” Weyenberg says.
One of the initial reasons Weyenberg started GrOSU was due to his involvement in the Green Engineering Scholars program as a freshman. Along with mentorship from Dr. Chris Ratcliff, a lecturer in the College of Engineering, Weyenberg used knowledge from the program in order to help found the club.
Starting in the fall of 2016, Weyenberg and a few other club members gained funding through the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) to start a prototype garden. Starting small, they planted a pop garden outside of Smith Labs, consisting of corn, amaranth, sorghum and millet. Over the summer, students and staff watered the garden and monitored its growth.
Due to the fact that this was the first initial garden planted by GrOSU, a few crops were forced to be discarded due to insect contamination. However, the club was able to harvest the corn and hosted a “pop” party where the snacks were popcorn harvested from corn grown in the garden.
This semester, with a new $9,000 grant from the Student Farm at Ohio State, Weyenberg hopes to expand GrOSU to include more systems he learned in his electrical engineering courses.
“We’ve got a whole load of projects lined up between us and the Student Farm. For on campus gardens, we are working on automated irrigation for our Pop Garden,” Weyenberg said. “In the budget, there is also room for bee hives in the Student Farm.”
While GrOSU is still an up and coming club, Weyenberg has multiple long term goals for the future, one of which is to provide fresh vegetables to Heirloom Cafe, a dining facility on campus.
“I would love to see even more gardens on campus and [be able to] sell the food that you see growing on campus,” Weyenberg says. “Students would then eat it in cafes and dining halls and [GrOSU] would have a bigger impact on students learning about sustainable agriculture.”
While GrOSU may still be expanding, its impact has already been seen around campus by students and staff at Ohio State. With new projects planned for the future, GrOSU will be the leading club for teaching students about sustainable agriculture.