The four-story, sandy brick building known as Finegan Hall, located at 120 W. Fifth St., is full of life, housing up to 244 Gannon University students. However, student life is not the only thing thriving within the building’s walls.
Thanks to an innovative idea germinated by some Gannon students, the building is now home to an array of pea, onion, asparagus, parsley, lettuce and spinach seedlings that are growing in greenhouses in unused rooms.
The seedlings are headed for Gannon’s Goodwill Garden, an urban garden initiative at Gannon’s West Hall, that is a collaborative effort between the University’s Erie-Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability (Erie-GAINS) initiative, facilities department staff and volunteer labor.
According to David McCartney, a resident assistant (RA) in Finegan Hall, the residence life staff challenged the RAs to come up with a program that served a particular function.
“The idea came from high school biology where we began to grow plants in late winter and I thought why not see if we can make Finegan into a service opportunity within the building,” McCartney said.
About five students are helping take care of the seedlings, as well as several RAs and resident directors. McCartney said the idea was to provide students with a new form of service learning.
“One of the things that resonates with the idea of the project is that less than a pound of seeds [will] turn into an abundance of food,” McCartney said. “Taking five minutes to make sure that the plants are thriving, surviving and knowing that the food produced by the seedlings will turn into meals for the Erie community is an easy way to remind students that service can be small and easy.”