Sept 25, 2020 | By Abby Mercier | Photo by Patil Khakhamian

When my roommates and I moved into our apartment on East Campus, we were tasked, for the first time, with consistently shopping and cooking for ourselves. Honestly, being off of the meal plan makes you appreciate all of the labor and love that goes into our food here on campus (thanks Bon Appetit!).

After all of our COVID-19 tests had come back negative, we decided to take a stroll around the block and soak up the sun and fresh air. On our way back, we were greeted by a Campus Safety officer, Pete.

Pete asked if we would like to visit the Campus Safety greenhouse to grab some cucumbers and tomatoes. Obviously, we agreed, as we were constantly on the lookout for any fresh (and free!) food that might add some spice to our new recipes.

The greenhouse stunned us: foliage covered everything from floor to ceiling, and dashes of red, yellow, orange, and pink hid behind the deep shades of green. These colors took the form of cucumbers, tomatoes, pineapples, peppers, green beans, papaya, carrots, and kohlrabi.

We walked back with our arms full of fresh cucumbers, peppers, beans, AND a whole tomato plant, which now lives on our deck. Pete provided us with a produce haul, to say the least.

When asked how the greenhouse came to be, Pete said the Campus Safety office was searching for a sense of community and purpose after the campus emptied back in March. Pete noted that the quiet campus was odd and disconcerting — he said picking plants out, caring for them, and watching so many grow here on campus brought some life to the place.

Pete was right about the last point, for sure. The greenhouse is filled with life and love: the air is humid, and the glass panels allow the sunshine to pour in from every angle. Being surrounded by so much vibrance took our breath away and forced us to forget about the pandemic — even if just for a few minutes.

Since our initial introduction to the greenhouse, Pete has continued to share the Campus Safety produce and we have continued to enjoy it. We have made cucumber and tomato salad, salsa, and stir fries with the delicious fruits and vegetables. Currently, we are researching how to use kohlrabi in one of our meals this week!

For my apartment roommates and I, the greenhouse has provided food, smiles, and laughter on many occasions. Since we have been introduced to the space, it has also been a place of comfort for first-years and friends who needed an extra reason to be happy on any given day.

The greenhouse is clearly a special place. It both literally and symbolically grows a strong and thriving Colorado College community. Despite the loneliness and isolation that we all have been experiencing, it is comforting to know that so many hands and hearts have worked to produce this space.

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