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New garden boxes bloom on campus 

New garden boxes bloom on campus 

10/26/2022 

 SUNY Cortland, how does your garden grow? Nontoxic’s a must, and new stone dust, with a little help from PepsiCo. 

It might not match the nursery rhyme, but the result will be new model gardens on campus that are more sustainable, including some additional beds that will provide produce for Cortland Auxiliary.  

Created in 2013, the university’s original model gardens were built to educate the university and the larger Cortland community on ecologically sustainable gardening in an urban setting. 

“Over the past few seasons some of the old garden beds were starting to show some wear and were going to need to be replaced,” said Josh McLaughlin, SUNY Cortland’s manager of Fleet Services and Grounds Operations.  

Garden Box 1.jpg
Materials are in place for the upgraded campus garden beds.

“So, instead of replacing the boxes with pressure treated wood that is treated with a chemical we did some research to find a more sustainable material that was nontoxic.” 

The solution was provided by Durable GreenBed, an Oregon company that advertises itself as providing commercial nontoxic, raised garden beds for communities, schools, churches and nonprofits. Some of the funding for the renovated gardens was through PepsiCo, Inc., as part of its beverage  contract with SUNY Cortland Auxiliary Services. 

The garden walls are made from a recycled wood-chip cement composite material called Faswall. Strong enough to be used in house construction, Faswall is touted as rot-free, permeable and durable enough to last decades.  

The new garden beds also will stand higher off the ground. Anyone who’s had a sore back from harvesting one too many carrots will know what a help that can be. 

That’s not the end of the upgrades, according to McLaughlin. 

“We are also changing the base layer from mulch to a stone dust aggregate,” he said. “This material compacts better than mulch and provides better footing.” 

The grounds staff also is adding a walkway from the sidewalk to the garden beds with this material to help gain access to the garden without the need to walk through the grass, he noted. 

Aside from the nine current gardens near the library, four new boxes are being built near Neubig Dining and The Bistro. The added beds will be used by Cortland Auxiliary, to grow some tasty ingredients for meals. 


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