Food for Thought, Soul, and Campus: Georgia Tech’s Community Garden

At the heart of Georgia Tech’s campus, a student-run garden provides community and fresh food.

An aerial shot of the community garden. The garden has multiple planting stations, both in rows and U-shapes. Also visible are multiple picnic tables and the pergola.

Since 2012, the community garden on Georgia Tech’s campus has offered a green space for students to get their hands dirty, learn more about self-sustenance, and take a break from the bustle of campus life to get some me time.  

“Being a large technical school, there are a ton of experiences you can’t get anywhere else that will feed your career,” said Eli Winterscheidt, community garden director and fourth-year materials science engineering major. “Things like the garden exist to feed you as a human being. Students come here and can get their hands in the dirt; they get to experience what it’s like to have fun and get outside.” 

At the beginning of last year, the space allocated to the community garden tripled in size, adding additional beds, a pergola with picnic tables, and the ability for the garden to become ADA accessible.  

Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS), the largest sustainability-focused student organization on campus, manages the garden and solicited input from the student body to inform the expansion’s design.  

Since then, Winterscheidt has enjoyed the learning curve of managing more space and opportunities for students to get involved. Every other Saturday, SOS hosts community garden workdays, which see anywhere from two to 80 participants, depending on the weather and time of year. 

On those days, students and others who are interested in working in the garden get the opportunity to connect and complete different tasks for the benefit of the crops grown in the garden. Some of the produce is given to Klemis Kitchen, an on-campus food bank for students in need, upon harvest. 

The garden grows a variety of produce: radishes, herbs, and figs from a fig tree grown from a cutting of Jimmy Carter’s own fig tree, to name just a few. 

As Winterscheidt prepares to graduate in May, he advises future Georgia Tech students to prioritize self-care in college. 

“Take time for yourself,” he said. “You’re a human being first, and then you’re a student, and then you can get involved on campus. Taking those priorities and getting them straight, and really understanding what it means to feed yourself before you feed your career.” 

To get involved with the community garden, connect with SOS on their Instagram or website, or go to a community garden day.

Community Market Brings Local Food, Other Small Businesses to Heart of Campus 

Craving Mediterranean food? Want a pair of student-crafted earrings? The Community Market seeks to serve students by providing a time and place for food vendors, student artists, and campus organizations to connect with Georgia Tech students.

The Wednesday Community Market set up along Tech Green.

Though campus is often buzzing with activity, Community Market days bring a unique energy to Georgia Tech. With novel cuisines to try, various campus organizations to connect with, and art for sale lining the sidewalks, students can take a pause from their day to explore student life and support small businesses. 

The market takes place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesdays along the southern edge of Tech Green, and in Tech Square at Centergy One Plaza on Thursdays at the same time. The Thursday market is a recent addition following student requests and hosts similar vendors and opportunities. 

While the market initially emerged to provide a variety of healthy food options for students, it has since expanded to serve additional student requests in the form of supplemental vendor options and opportunities to showcase avenues to get involved on campus. 

“The idea began because we want to create community around sustainability,” said Malte Weiland, senior sustainability project manager at Tech’s Campus Services department. “We want it to be a functioning community for students, and we’re also taking care of that community through support for both students and vendors.” 

Moroccan cuisine, roasted nuts, teas, and local honey are just a few of the regular offerings on the food side, while jewelry, crochet, and clothing are some of the common wares showcased by student entrepreneurs.  

Student organizations can set up for free, provided sustainability plays a role in their initiatives. Student entrepreneurs can also sell their work for free, a perk that many Tech students find helpful in sharing and profiting from their work. 

Bella Brunner, third-year mechanical engineering student as well as manager and frequent vendor for the Community Market, noted that the low barrier for entry for students encourages exploration of their entrepreneurial side without encountering the prohibitive costs often associated with selling at markets.  

Beyond that, Brunner emphasizes the importance of the market for enhancing student life. 

“The market provides a valuable space for students to connect with their peers and forge new relationships,” said Brunner. “Whether it’s bonding over a shared love of pastries or discovering a mutual appreciation for handmade crafts, the market fosters a sense of camaraderie and belonging among students, enhancing their overall sense of community on campus.” 

The Community Market is always open to hearing what students want to see at the market and welcomes suggestions and feedback. 

“We are continually improving to meet student needs,” said Weiland. 

Students and others can connect or learn more about becoming a vendor at the Community Market on their Instagram.  

Highlighting Arts at Tech with Georgia Tech Creatives

Georgia Tech students Lekha Gowda and Akbar Khan spotlight the artistic side of Tech students with on-campus organization Georgia Tech Creatives (GTC). The organization hosts art workshops, demonstrations, thrift markets, and other events for Tech students to enjoy.

Akbar, Lekha, and another student pose for a photo while sitting on a stone wall adjacent to Tech Green.
Akbar Khan (left) and Lekha Gowda (center) with another GTC member at a GTC Paint and Sit event. Image Courtesy of Georgia Tech Creatives, @gtcreatives on Instagram.

In tandem with Georgia Tech Arts and other campus resources, Georgia Tech Creatives (GTC) founders Lekha Gowda and Akbar Khan encourage Tech students to fully embrace their creative side. While Tech students are known as leaders in technology and innovation, GTC emphasizes how the arts complement the two concepts by allowing students to explore and expand their interests.

The initial idea for the club came during a photoshoot. Fourth-year architecture major Khan was honing his photography skills, and fourth-year business administration major Gowda was exploring her interest in modeling. The more they talked during the process, the more they realized the need for a creative space on campus.

“We’d both been struggling to meet other creatives here,” said Gowda. “We realized we knew of a lot of creative people at Tech, but it was hard for us to meet one another because there wasn’t an effective, dedicated space for us to connect.”

Thus, the foundations of GTC were set. Initially, Gowda and Khan aimed to host an on-campus market for artists to connect and sell their work. It was during the planning process they realized having a dedicated community would be even more beneficial.

“We realized it was a pretty big task to bring all these people together. It would make more sense if we created the community and then built the events around that,” said Gowda.

Since Fall 2022, when the club started, their executive team has grown to 12 students, all of whom started off coming to meetings, and stayed due to their shared appreciated for the GTC mission. Gowda, Khan, and their team have grown GTC to nearly 3,000 followers on Instagram and have hosted dozens of events on Tech’s campus, with some events bringing out over 400 students. For them, the fast rise of the club is a testament to the community and the intersection of creativity and technology within Tech students.

“You can find 20 different ways to code something to produce the same output, so I think that the narrative of saying engineering or coding isn’t creative is limiting,” said Gowda. “So many students here have convinced themselves that they can’t be artistic because they’re in STEM. But, if they integrate both, they can improve their craft even more.”

An intentional part of the design of GTC is that there’s no membership fee to join. Without a fee to participate, people who don’t typically find themselves leaning into their artistic side can show up and learn something new. For both Gowda and Khan, growing not only participation in the art scene but art appreciation among the student body is a key mission of the club.

Khan’s advice for prospective students is to keep in mind that Tech has many artistic resources. When he first came to Tech, he had no idea there was an arts department or a full-blown recording studio in the School of Music. Through GTC, they’ve built some awareness around these parts of Tech, but Khan wants prospective students to know about them too.

In addition, Gowda and Khan both encourage prospective students to hold on to their artistic outlet as they continue their education.

“For students considering Tech, I think it’s important to know that your artistic side doesn’t need to die out. We want to support you in doing the opposite. You can create and still pursue your degree,” said Khan. “It’s all about balancing and finding ways for the arts to plug in to your major, too.”

Talking Tradition: Driving the Wreck at Georgia Tech

Each year, Georgia Tech’s Ramblin’ Wreck is driven by a single student to all its appearances. This year’s driver, Matthew Kistner, reflects on the Wreck and the Institute’s unique take on traditions.

Editor’s Note: The Ramblin’ Reck Club has used the spelling “Reck” to refer to the car since its inception. However, the Institute uses “Ramblin’ Wreck” and holds a trademark on this spelling. 

A beloved symbol of tradition since 1961, many Georgia Tech students are quick to smile when they hear the rumble of the Ramblin’ Wreck’s engine or the shrill beep of the horn on campus. While the 1930 Ford Model A Sport Coupe is best known for leading the football team onto the field, the car is often spotted around the college grounds, attending events or otherwise bringing cheer to the student body. 

Matthew Kistner stands with the Ramblin' Wreck, a gold and white 1930 Model A sport coupe

In the opinion of third-year computer science student Matthew Kistner, the Wreck is the perfect symbol of how tradition at Tech goes beyond what can be found anywhere else.  

“We have a lot of things that are really out there,” explained Kistner. “And that just means we’re fostering something really special for students to pass down.” 

Kistner himself gets to play a unique role when it comes to the Wreck – starting in January, he began his yearlong term as sole driver. As such, Kistner is the only person who can drive the Wreck from point A to point B: football games, campus events, weddings, and beyond. 

The Wreck has been driven by an elected member of the Ramblin’ Reck Club, a student organization devoted to spirit and tradition at Tech, each year since 1968. Along with driving, Kistner is also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the vehicle. Though he’s early in his tenure, he’s already completed several grease changes and an oil change.  

Kistner stands underneath the Ramblin' Wreck, which is on a lift, to perform a grease change.
Kistner changing the grease on the Wreck. Image courtesy of Matthew Kistner.

For him, having such a role in one of Tech’s most recognized traditions is an honor. Kistner has long described himself as spirited, and knew that finding a university where he could express that spirit was a priority in his college search. After researching Georgia Tech and finding the Ramblin’ Reck Club, which also plans yearly traditions such as the Mini 500, the Freshman Cake Race, and the homecoming Ramblin’ Wreck Parade, Kistner knew Tech was the right place for him. 

“This club played a huge part in how I ended up here,” said Kistner. “The Reck Club gets a ton of opportunities when it comes to getting directly involved with Georgia Tech sports and student life. I got on campus my first year and immediately was looking for this club.” 

In 2022, Kistner’s first year in the organization, he told then Wreck driver Evalyn Edwards that driving the Wreck was eventually what he wanted to do. Now, two years later, it’s his reality. 

Though much of the car remains the same as when it came to Tech, a few pieces change with each driver. The flags on the front, which read “to Hell With Georgia” and “Give ‘em Hell Tech,” are given to the driver as keepsakes at the end of their year, as are the step plates and radiator cap. The radiator cap traditionally takes the mold of a quail, though drivers may choose whatever animal they like.  

“I thought about picking a frog actually,” Kistner said. “But the quail is traditional, and I wanted to stick with that.” 

Tradition plays an important role in life at Tech. From receiving and filling out RAT caps at new student Convocation, to leaving offerings at the grave of Sideways the dog for good luck, and the Whistle sounding off throughout each day to signify class ending, the day-to-day for Tech students often features some homage to the school’s deep history.  

For students coming to Tech in the future, Kistner’s advice is to embrace it. On top of that, finding ways to get involved is key. 

“There’s a common misconception that Tech isn’t a very social school,” said Kistner. “People that want to get involved in social clubs can and should. Sign up for as many things as you want – you can always drop things later.” 

The Ramblin’ Reck Club recruits each spring semester. View a full list of registered student organizations and learn more about tradition at Tech. 

Explore Living Learning Communities at Georgia Tech

Living Learning Communities (LLCs) are an opportunity to connect with campus in smaller groups of likeminded students. Each LLC lives together and has academic and experiential programming that coincides with the goals of that LLC.  

There are six available by application to incoming first-year students: Explore, Global Leadership, Grand Challenges, the Honors Program Living Learning Communities, First-Year Semester Abroad and the iGniTe Summer Launch Program. Each LLC has its own focus and goals, so research each one and find which fits your interests best. 

Explore: College of Sciences 

Explore is curated for students interested in research and pre-health pathways. Centered around exploration and experimentation, it encourages students to delve into various academic disciplines, research endeavors, and experiential learning.  

“I think the connections I’ve made here at Explore have changed my college life for the better,” said Explore student Michael Saenz. “I often find myself going to my peers for assistance in academic studies or simply just to have a friend to hang out with. Our experiences outside of the classroom have been enlightening and enjoyable, including weekly basketball games with our resident assistant and collaborative Jackbox games.” 

Global Leadership 

Students in Global Leadership learn how to approach global problems by engaging with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  Through a blend of cultural immersion, leadership development, and academic exploration, students engage in cross-cultural understanding and collaborative projects.  

“If you’re curious how to apply what you learn at Georgia Tech to world problems, you’ll feel at home in Global Leadership. Candidates that want to strive to better themselves and the world as a team will also find success,” said Brandon Moncada, Global Leadership student. “I made many friends that will last a lifetime, and I learned how to work in a diverse team and use our differences as strengths to develop meaningful and pragmatic global solutions” 

Grand Challenges 

Grand Challenges helps students build problem solving and leadership skills by immersing students in addressing global issues through innovation and collaboration. It combines interdisciplinary coursework, mentorship, and community engagement to tackle pressing societal problems.  

“In many ways, Grand Challenges completely changed my life. It shaped the way I viewed innovation and ideation, emphasizing the importance of iterative and evidence-based product development tailored to identifying and addressing true problems in society,” said Shivani Murugapiran, Grand Challenges participant. “Beyond the academic experience, I formed deep bonds with people I call my best friends! I am incredibly grateful to have GC in my life and all the incredible, talented people who are now stuck with me forever.” 

Honors Program 

The Honors Program integrates academics, mentorship, and collaborative living. Through seminars and shared spaces, students cultivate lifelong connections, aiming to excel academically and exemplify progress and service.  

“The Honors Program community is the perfect place for curious and creative students who want to live together with other like-minded individuals.  Our apartment-style residence halls, robust schedule of approximately 75 classes per academic year just for Honors Program students, and numerous events and programs tailored to students’ interests create a close-knit community,” said Amy D’Unger, interim director and associate director of the Honors Program. “Being in the Honors Program offers the feel of a small, interdisciplinary college, but with the resources of a large research university.” 

For more information on the student experience in the Honors Program, visit their student profile page

iGniTe 

The iGniTe program at Georgia Tech provides students with the opportunity to get a head start on their college experience by offering summer enrollment. It allows participants to dive into coursework by taking 6-7 credit hours, explore interests, and engage in a supportive community before the traditional fall term. 

“There are so many benefits. I think the biggest for me was having a friend group going into the fall semester,” said Luke Gerguis, recent iGniTe participant. “I was told just how crazy the fall semester is for first-year students and already having a group of friends from day one was so helpful. Plus, I knew all about campus as well, so the fall semester wasn’t nearly as intimidating.” 

First Year Semester Abroad (FYSA) 

The First Year Semester Abroad Program at Georgia Tech prioritizes a global learning experience from day one. Students begin their Tech journey overseas in France or England, familiarizing themselves with various cultures while completing coursework.  

“I benefitted from FYSA in so many ways and as time goes on, I’ll probably realize even more,” said FYSA student Lydia Love. “The biggest way was how much I learned about myself. I made great friends, memories, and connections with professors of course, but the greatest impact was on how I view myself and the world around me. I became more independent, confident, and resilient from facing small challenges and great adventures while abroad with FYSA.”  

Learn more about LLCs on the Housing and Residence Life website.