The Drake Student Alumni Association (SAA) hosted a Harvest Party on Tuesday, Sept. 14 in the Sprout Garden to kick off the harvesting season with the university and neighborhood communities.
Established in 2012, the Sprout Garden serves as a resource for outdoor environmental education and directly supports healthy food accessibility.
Formerly on Forest Avenue, the Sprout Garden is now located at 30th Street and Carpenter Avenue, across from Goodwin-Kirk residence hall.
Tuesday evening, students, alumni and faculty gathered with music, garden-grown snacks and an appearance from Griff II himself.
The party was a success thanks to Drake SAA’s planning and the philanthropic support of the Maddie’s Circle grant.
“The Harvest Party was in talks as of Spring 2021; we have been talking about this for a long time, and SAA has Maddie Circle Foundation funds,” Junior and SAA President Kiley Kahler said. “So through those funds, we like to collaborate and support different community projects, one of them being the Sprout Garden. So we donated $1,000 to the Garden in the spring.”
Kahler said the grant money went to new soil, raised pergola beds and raspberry and blackberry bushes.
Harvest celebration attendees sampled a host of Sprout-Garden-grown snacks prepared by SAA members. A few courageous students even tried out a bike-powered blender to blend party snacks.
SAA Vice President of Philanthropy and sophomore Annika Hurd said that her organization’s goal for the party was to get more students in the space and excited about the possibilities of the Sprout Garden.
“We made fresh salsa with the blender bike. We used fresh tomatoes from the garden that we put on bruschetta sandwiches,” Hurd said. “Fun foods like that to get people excited about the environment and using this space to their advantage.”
With a mix of Drake students both new and returning attending the event, first-year Miranda Mellentine agreed that SAA’s goal was accomplished.
“It’s been so wonderful. We got little tote bags from SAA. We also got snacks with watermelon, bread with cheese, a bunch of vegetables and a kale and fruit smoothie,” Mellentine said.
In addition to philanthropy, SAA worked in collaboration with the Office of Community Engaged Learning & Service. Each academic year, upperclassmen serve on behalf of the office as community engagement peers.
This year, senior Marlee Rutledge is a peer serving as the Sprout Garden coordinator.
“The Harvest Party was really a celebration of the first growing season in the new location that the Sprout Garden has moved to,” Rutledge said. “It’s really a great location. We have a food forest and this spot is really sunny and everything is growing wonderfully.”
As well as outreach, Rutledge does garden maintenance consisting of weeding, watering, mulching and organizing.
“I have a green thumb. My favorite thing about being a part of this space is that when I come sometimes nothing is ready, then I’ll come back and everything is ready to pick,” Rutledge said.
Rutledge said that students can volunteer in the Sprout Garden by emailing the community engaged peers’ email located on the Community Engagement website at: https://www.drake.edu/community/learningservice/.
The Harvest Party helped kick off an academic year of new traditions and SAA-led and SAA-collaborative events.
“Drake students can get more involved with SAA by coming to our meetings Tuesdays every week at 7 p.m. at the Alumni House, which is located at 2700 University Ave.,” Kahler said.
Kahler said that everyone is welcome and should follow SAA on their social media platforms.
“Griff is always there, food is there; it’s just overall a fun time to get connected with alumni, to support philanthropy and to celebrate Drake traditions.” Kahler said.