The Villanova landscape is changing with new projects across campus—including the addition of a community garden this fall. For Thomas Saldutti ’17 COE, this garden is the culmination of four years of research and planning.
The notion of creating a community garden at Villanova first crossed Saldutti's mind as a freshman in the Environmental Leadership Learning Community. He attended campus lectures, regional conferences and urban garden visits, where he gathered ideas and began to see the real potential for such a project at Villanova. As a sophomore, he was asked to serve on the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee (PESC) and became co-chair of the student committee during his junior year.
These early experiences inspired Saldutti to partner with fellow civil engineering students to conduct research on the feasibility of a garden at Villanova. They contacted other schools and identified a model to follow. They also worked with Dr. Steven Smith and Dr. Chara Armon who served as great resources on agriculture. Armed with data and success stories, they created a proposal for a biological research garden that could be used for classes, student-faculty research and community outreach.
The Villanova Consortium for Agriculture Research and Education (VCARE) was approved in spring 2016, and a generous gift from Stephen Amadio '72 and Margaret McCarvill '73 is supporting the garden’s installation.
Planning and implementation for the garden—to be located on Main Campus near the tennis courts–will continue this summer. The garden will also be a service site for the 2017 St. Thomas of Villanova Day in September—volunteers will construct raised garden beds in time for the planting season.
In addition to his work with VCARE, Saldutti has conducted research with engineering professors Dr. Virginia Smith and Dr. Seri Park, using geographic information system (GIS) technology to look at environmental factors that make wet roads less safe. He is also a student member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Although Saldutti graduates this May, he won’t be going far—he plans to start his Master’s in Civil Engineering at Villanova part-time this fall while working full-time at a civil engineering consulting firm in Philadelphia. He looks forward to seeing the garden finally come to life. “More than anything, I would like people to feel like the garden belongs to all of Villanova,” he says.