Student organization looks to plant organic gardens throughout campus
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
If all goes according to plan, UNH students will be able to enjoy a series of organic gardens emerging throughout campus this spring, thanks to a new student organization.
“I would like to see multiple gardens rather than just one large garden,” said UNH Student Planning Organization President Tom Brown. “It would be nice to see dorms sharing gardens, and students getting together and hanging out outside.”
The organization is hosting a Garden Charrette on Sunday, Oct. 21, as part of “Food Day.” At the event, students will have the opportunity to discuss the possibility of a community garden on campus.
The event will be an interactive forum, during which members of the campus community can share their ideas for creating a sustainable, organic garden.
“We’re doing it as a part of food citizenship month,” Brown said. “We’ll have campus maps so we can all collaborate on an open space.”
Members are working on the event with Get Real! UNH, a student group dedicated to bringing local, humanely produced, and organic food to the community.
“The Student Planning Organization’s contribution to the Month of Food Citizenship is imperative,” Evan Girard, president of Get Real! UNH, said. “They play an important role in the planning and development of socially, environmentally and economically sustainable local and regional food systems.”
Food citizenship month promotes a just and sustainable food system that benefits the community and environment, alike. Members of the Student Planning Organization said they believe that incorporating organic gardens into the campus will reinforce those principles.
“It will help better the community, promote sustainability, and get people more involved,” said Ashley Roz, a member of the Student Planning Organization. “I think it’ll definitely bring something new to campus that gets the community involved working toward one common goal.”
The charrette will be the first step in the design and planning process. Students organizing the event hope to designate and map out spaces for a potential garden. The idea of multiple gardens will also be discussed.
UNH senior Courtney Wolf said she is excited about the event, and that she thinks gardens would be a great addition to campus.
“I love going to Prescott Park in Portsmouth,” Wolf said. “It’s beautiful. There are flowers everywhere, and there are places you can sit and enjoy it. It would be really cool to have mini gardens like that on campus.”
Prescott Park is also well known for its seasonal gardening themes, an attribute that Student Planning Organization members said they feel would be important to incorporate into campus gardens.
“Some things we’re working on now is where we can plant gardens,” Roz said. “And what we can grow and how to keep it sustainable throughout all of the seasons.”
In addition to designating feasible gardening spaces, certain guidelines need to be met. Gardens will need to be near a water source, and within walking distance from the center of campus. Right now, the Congreve lawn is being discussed as a viable option.
“There would have to be an organization that oversees the running of the gardens,” Brown said. “You don’t want people arguing over space, so a regulating body is needed to keep people happy.”
While Get Real! UNH is more of a sounding board for the organic gardening aspects, the Student Planning Organization is arranging the planning process, which includes finding resources, sponsors and local support.
“This is really a grassroots movement,” Faculty Advisor Mary Friedman said. “This is a group of students asking, ‘What do we as students want,’ and ‘Who do we reach out to as resources so that we can actually do this?’”
The organization has arranged for several speakers to present the benefits of the project on Sunday, including a member in charge of Durham’s community garden at Wagon Hill, and UNH professor Kelly Cullen, who teaches a localvore class. Campus Planning Director Stephen Pesci has been invited to the event, as well.
The organization has received strong support for its community-growth initiatives since it was established last year. Members have worked on numerous projects centering on sustainability, community planning and urban development.
“They do regional projects, watershed projects, urban gardening and much more,” Friedman said. “It’s so diverse. Last year, they did the inventory for moped parking and helped with organizing it.”
Although the organization comprises mostly students from the environmental planning, tourism planning and the environmental conservation and resource economic programs, it is open to students in all areas of study.
The overarching goal of creating the organization was for members to network, gain applied experience, and most importantly, connect with each other and the community.