Bella “Bee” Goland, a biology major with a studio art minor, has been unearthing a new era of SLUG for Lawrentians. A junior at Lawrence not afraid to get her hands dirty, Goland spent her summer working on the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden. She wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“For me, gardening has always been a safe place,” Goland said. “It's been a place to escape; a place to really, truly almost be myself in a way, and SLUG has allowed me to have that space and have that community.”
Her work last summer has been essential to revitalizing Lawrence’s garden space. COVID had taken its toll; the garden became overrun by weeds. Though much of her work focused on restoring the gardens, Goland has also done extensive work to improve the space. She and her team mulched the garden lanes, installed an irrigation system, and cut down invasive plant populations.
“It’s so validating to say I helped some part of this natural landscape around Lawrence and made it flourish,” Goland said. “It couldn’t have happened without the help of my fellow student researchers, Will Brenneman and Haley Siculan.”
The students worked collaboratively on SLUG: Goland led the apiary, Siculan led the gardens, and Brenneman led the hoop house.
The hoop house, a semicircular structure that can function as a greenhouse or season-extender, was improved. They also changed the soil in the beds and installed fans for ventilation. Soon, the club will have a space for gardening year-round.
“I have been obsessed with bees all my life,” Goland said. “So, when I got appointed to the apiary director position, I cried; I definitely cried.”
Goland learned about beekeeping this summer, and she loved playing a part in maintaining the life and work of the bees. From honey harvesting to catching split hives, she had hands-on experience that has developed a skill set she wants to continue to grow after Lawrence.
“She manages our campus hives and learns from our expert beekeeper, Larry Cain,” said Israel Del Toro, assistant professor of biology and Goland’s mentor. “[She] also spends time drawing and looking at the tiny details of the bees in our hives.”
Goland considers herself lucky to have combined her love of art and biology through her work. She created and labeled a detailed drawing of a bee as part of a physiology study. Her artwork will soon be posted at the apiary.
“Art has always been a way that I connect with what I'm learning about,” Goland said. “By drawing out the bees that I was working with this summer, it helped me understand them more. ... It's something I would look into doing after college as well, doing field guides and booklets like that. I kind of want to be a beekeeper after college; just have my own garden, my own place.”
Though she loves the personal vibe she feels while beekeeping and gardening, she also loves the SLUG community. Emerging from the pandemic, student support and engagement with the garden has been on the rise. The club staff has had fantastic turnout for their weekly garden activities, and they’re creating new board positions to manage the growing group.
SLUG’s growth isn’t limited to the club; the garden now has beds dedicated to research as well as use by community members. The green space gives Appleton residents the opportunity to grow their own produce and enjoy the natural environment. In addition to gardening, local residents also purchased produce from SLUG via the farmer’s market. The club’s stand sold 71 pounds of peaches this year.
Meanwhile, Bon Appétit, Lawrence’s food service provider, purchased produce from SLUG. They bought apples, squash, and tomatoes that were then served to students. McFleshman’s Brewing Company in downtown Appleton also took part in supporting SLUG; they made and served pear cider using produce from the SLUG orchard.
“I'm more optimistic with the state of SLUG now,” Goland said. “I hope we have boards in the future that will continue the beautiful work that's happened so far.”
Goland also serves as SLUG’s social media director. To see the fabulous work the organization continues to do, follow SLUG on Instagram @SLUG_garden.
Class Year: 2024
Hometown: Winneconne, Wisconsin
Activities: SLUG, art