KOKOMO, Ind. — To most people, the eight wooden structures behind the Carver Community Center are the foundation of a garden.
But to one Indiana University Kokomo class, they represent ethics in action.
Students in Christopher Buckman’s Introduction to Ethics class built the raised garden beds as part of a practical project to do good in Kokomo.
“It’s a hands-on experience in ethics,” said Buckman, lecturer in philosophy. “Usually when we teach ethics it’s very theoretical. This semester we’re applying the ideas and doing something to benefit our community.”
Bundled up in winter coats, hats, and gloves on a cold and windy November day, the students assembled the 6 feet by 4 feet rectangular frames in the yard behind the center, leaving them ready for planting in the spring.
Freshman Josh Smith said they sought out community partners to serve and decided the Carver Center’s need for a garden fit what they were looking for — a project that would serve many people.
“The point is to do as much good as we can, and benefit the community as a whole, not just one individual,” he said. “As a class, we came together to do something wholesome for people.”
Desmon Williams, also a freshman, said the project provides a way for people to help themselves.
“We thought it was ethical to get this started, so others can come plant seeds and grow their own food,” he said. “From an ethical standpoint, we learned that everyone has empathy, and wants to help. When we come together, we can get stuff done.”
Buckman said the project required students to identify a problem or an area in the community where good could be done, discover the skills, talents, and interests of every student in the class, reach consensus on decisions, and use their available resources to do the most good possible.
They received funding from the Kokomo Experience and You (KEY) program, and also garnered an IU Kokomo applied learning grant.
Donta Rogers, Carver Community Center executive director, said the garden fills a need for an educational component the center can offer the youth who attend its programming in the future.
“The ability to grow your own food is a valuable skill, and is something we think kids need to know,” he said. “It gives them a sense of value for their food, when they grow it , harvest it, and prepare it. This will be great for the community and for the Carver Center.”