RSO Spotlight: The peace garden is IWU’s hidden Eden

By Farah Bassyouni Feb 25, 2022
Photo provided by Ryan Reish
Photo provided by Ryan Reish

Illinois Wesleyan University is home to an eclectic group of registered student organizations, enough for anybody to feel welcome somewhere. RSOs provide ways for students to better connect with each other and our community, and the Peace Garden is a shining example.

The organization aims to produce sustainable food for the Bloomington-Normal community, most of which is donated to the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (WBRP). The WBRP aims to provide for communities declared as food deserts. 

Some products are available for purchase to IWU students at the garden’s on-site farm stand, which is available on Wednesdays during the summer and fall behind Myers Welcome Center. The Peace Garden also puts up a shop outside of the Joslin Atrium from time to time. The wide variety of fresh grown produce includes apples, pears, tomatoes, peppers and so much more.

The most popular product made at the Peace Garden is honey made by the bees who have a hive in the garden. Aspiring student beekeepers train every year to take better care of the hive, which is a rare opportunity

The Peace Garden is incredibly easy to join. Anyone is welcome to attend a meeting with no prior agricultural experience needed. Peace Garden meetings mostly consist of maintaining the garden. For those who want to get involved more physically with the garden, planting and harvesting provides a hands-on opportunity to help. People who prefer less manual jobs, watering and painting are fun alternatives to stay involved.

The Peace Garden is also a microcosm of diversity within the IWU community. Members come from all walks of life, from as close as Bloomington to across the world in Egypt. 

Each executive board member is involved with other organizations at IWU, which helps the Peace Garden regularly collaborate with other RSOs on campus for events. The Sierra Student Coalition, an organization focused on promoting environmental consciousness in our community, acts as an unofficial sister organization to the Peace Garden. The SSC and Peace Garden often share ideas and similar goals, which makes collaborating easy and helpful.

Last autumn, Illinois Wesleyan’s Women of Color RSO also collaborated with the Peace Garden for their annual Harvest Festival. The two organizations gathered at the garden to educate the festival attendees about cultural diversity in foods with sustainable food items. 

A highlight of the event was the apple cider press, where attendees could use a machine  to press apples into the smooth, delicious beverage we all love. The real showstopper was the fresh New Orleans-style gumbo, made in a fire pit for attendees to enjoy after watching its preparation.
The Peace Garden has gone above and beyond its goals of practicing and promoting sustainability within our community. The welcoming nature and kindhearted ideals of the organization provide a place for anyone to feel at home. A visit to the Peace Garden is a must for any IWU student not only because of how fun and gratifying maintaining the garden. More importantly, it allows students to get involved with and support the local community. 

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