KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Pellissippi State Community College is providing students with a real-time look at how food is grown. 

The garden plot on the Hardin Valley Campus is lined with raised rows growing collards, kale, lettuce and carrots. 

“We have a whole bed of carrots that I could harvest right now to eat but we are going to leave them there that way I’ve got food to harvest for students come January and February,” said April Ellis, the PSCC garden specialist. 

Ellis says misconceptions aside, you can put a garden in a good position for Winter. She is transforming the garden’s quiet season into one of the most productive. 

“We’re really trying to grow and produce food at the edges of the season, so we have to get really creative with our planting plan, our vegetable varieties, and our harvest schedule,” Ellis said. 

Student volunteers help Ellis dig, plant and harvest the produce that stocks the campus food pantry. Ellis says serving as Pellissippi State’s garden specialist is a dream come true. 

“I am very passionate about food insecurity and coming up with solutions for it. Everybody deserves fresh, healthy vegetables, so growing for the pantry is a joy,” Ellis said. 

Her goal is for the campus garden to support health and wellness and encourage students to choose nutritious food. 

“Being outside is wonderful for reducing our cortisol levels. It’s wonderful for your mental health, your physical health, and habits and things that you learn inside of the garden tend to follow people outside of the garden space. So, growing a vegetable, working with vegetables may encourage people to eat more vegetables once they get home,” Ellis said. 

Ellis says future plans for the garden include a seating area and expanding the plot.