Cabrini’s untapped and underutilized resource

By Ethan Baker
May 10, 2023

The inside of Cabrini's greenhouse after a long day of work put in by dedicated students. Photo courtesy of Cabrini University's Marketing Department via Flickr.
The inside of Cabrini's greenhouse after a long day of work put in by dedicated students. Photo courtesy of Cabrini University's Marketing Department via Flickr.

Cabrini University’s Greenhouse existed for decades. Yet, it remained untapped and rarely used until just a few years ago.

The greenhouse is located between Founders Hall and the parking garage, accessed by a path that connects to the main steps into Founders Hall.

Dr. Raymond Ward, director of the Wolfington Center, recalled that before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, former Pierce Fellow and Cabrini Alumna, Chardanay White (’20) utilized the greenhouse. White added bucket gardens and distributed them to the community with assistance from the Wolfington Center.

However, COVID-19 halted all work in the greenhouse, and it sat dormant for over a year.

It wasn’t until spring 2022 when Jamie Falgie, senior biology major and Pierce Fellow, wanted to bring the greenhouse back to life.

Getting started

Falgie explained, “We wanted to expand [the project] a little more.”

Bucket gardens planted by Cabrini Students. Photo from Cabrini University’s Marketing Department via Flickr.

Falgie completed a sustainability report with Dr. Caroline Nielson, Cabrini professor of biology and environmental science.

Falgie and Nielson based the report on Laudato si’ (Praise Be to You), the second encyclical of Pope Francis. The report, titled “On Care for our Common Home”, was cultivated because Cabrini’s past president signed an action plan. The plan detailed seven different goals to make the campus more sustainable. The goal for this report was titled “Cry of the Earth.” The goal pushed Falgie to think more about sustainable infrastructure and self-generating food.

Nielson and Falgie recommended that the university start using the greenhouse, based on Falgie’s ideas. She spoke with Ward to learn more about who ran the greenhouse and how to get involved.

In Fall 2022, Falgie and the Wolfington Center recruited students to help plant the bucket gardens. Falgie said, “Each bucket has a tomato plant and a pepper plant in it.” There are now 30 buckets, double the number from last year.

The aim of the project isn’t only sustainability, but service as well.

A growing partnership

Students working to plant bucket gardens to be donated to Martha’s Choice. Photo from Cabrini University’s Marketing Department via Flickr.

Ward said the Wolfington Center has a longstanding relationship with Martha’s Choice Marketplace, the largest and most visited food pantry in Montgomery County. After the pandemic, Martha’s Choice bought the tract of land across from the site of the former Saint Gabriel’s School, a youth residential care facility.

The land is now known as Martha’s Community Farm. The farm encompasses educational exhibits, interactive gardens, and more.

A team of students and staff will distribute the bucket gardens to Martha’s Choice. Bucket gardens work well for individuals who may not have enough space or time for a traditional garden.

Although the partnership is great, Falgie explained, “To be completely honest, we haven’t been able to work as much with Martha’s Choice as we wanted to; [the greenhouse] is still a new program.”

However, she said she is working with Martha’s Choice to develop future events and projects. Falgie explained, “There’s been a lot going on this semester. I started from scratch last year and we completely upscaled the project this year.”

There have been great successes this year, despite the steep learning curve. Falgie said, “We know exactly what to order and where to order from.”

Looking forward

“What I really want to see is just that this program continues,” Falgie said. “It’s a really great space, and I would just love for people to use it; I would love for the community at Cabrini to get more involved.”

Jamie Falgie planting bucket gardens with peppers and tomatoes. Photo from Cabrini University’s Marketing Department via Flickr.

Falgie hopes this project can grow to assist as many individuals in the community as possible, Cabrini students included.

Regarding the greenhouse’s partnership with Martha’s Choice, Falgie said, “Next year, hopefully, that partnership can get stronger.” With many ideas and plans in place, the greenhouse is destined to grow.

If anyone wants to get involved and work with the greenhouse, contact Ward in the Wolfington Center or Falgie via email.

Ethan Baker

Ethan Baker is a Digital Communication and Social Media major and a Spanish minor. He is from Southampton, Pennsylvania. Ethan is involved in many activities on campus such as theater, chromatix, admissions, and residence life. In the spring semester of 2022, Ethan was cast as Mr. Mushnik in Cabrini University's production of Little Shop of Horrors. He also won second place in the Phillip M. Cook one-act play festival in the spring of 2022. Ethan is looking forward to writing for the Loquiter this school year.

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