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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA Community Garden offers opportunities for students to grow

Cedar Gardner

“Come Unity” adorns a sign outside the UA Community Garden on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

UA students can play a vital role in justice for our planet, as well as live greener lives by getting involved in sustainability opportunities offered on campus.

One environmentally-themed project at the campus is the community garden, run by the garden committee of the Students for Sustainability. Located at 1400 E. Mabel St, the garden is a welcoming space for anyone interested in the environment or agriculture. 

The garden serves as a bridge between the UA and Tucson community through sustainable agriculture education and outreach, as well as community building. Jaclyn Mendelson, a plant sciences major, is the garden committee chair. 

“The committee gets to plan programs that will contribute to the important community building aspects of the garden, such as Stories in the Garden and educational workshops,” Mendelson said. 

RELATED: Sustainability projects vie for a piece of $400,000 in Green Fund grant monies

Anyone from the university or Tucson community are able to visit the garden and learn sustainable growing practices for the Sonoran Desert region. Beyond educational opportunities, the garden is a place for like-minded people to discuss environmentalism and social justice. 

“The number of student groups that volunteer in the garden has increased every year,” Mendelson said.

The garden committee partners with other student groups as well, including Blue Chip and the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. They also partner with various classes to provide learning opportunities in sustainable agriculture for students. 

“The students will come and get fun, active and hands-on volunteer hours in,” Mendelson said. “In return, they get a lesson in how our garden sustainably grows food year-round, as well as being exposed to a community that they’re always welcome in.”

 The garden has made connections outside campus to different organizations in Tucson. 

“Iskashitaa (a refugee network based in Tucson) is a longtime partner with our garden and they have hosted events in our space, as well as stopped by to teach about the food they harvest,” Mendelson said. 

RELATED: Students should take advantage of Tucson’s many farmers markets where the food is affordable, local and always in season

She is particularly excited about the garden’s plans to create a seed library in the UA Main Library. 

“We’re working with Pima County Public Library to make this possible and to make seeds available to all students and faculty on campus,” she said. 

The garden offers a program where students can rent their own plots and grow their food at the garden. Mendelson said that 75 students have rented plots since the garden opened in 2012. 

“That is not including the groups of graduate students or clubs that will rent plots with us, or the faculty and staff of the UA who have also gardened with us,” she said. 

Anyone interested in renting a plot can fill out a “Request a Plot” form at the Students for Sustainability website.

“Students shouldn’t be concerned if they don’t have gardening experience,” Mendelson said. “When I first started in the garden back in Spring 2015, I didn’t know anything about gardening and now I’m managing the UA garden.” 

The committee provides information and advice on gardening, as well as a guide to seasonal crops. 

“Students can grow anything legal in their plots,” she said. “There are actually six times you can plant a year in Tucson.” 

Mendelson said that there are always common crops in the garden, changing throughout the various planting and harvesting seasons. 

“The beauty about growing [in Tucson] is that you can grow year-round and grow all different kinds of veggies throughout your rental period,” Mendelson said. 

The excess harvested food from the garden is donated to the volunteers, and occasionally given to the UA Campus Pantry. 

“It’s important for members of the community to know how the food they eat is produced,” Mendelson said. 

One of the community garden’s goals is to fight for food justice in not only this community, but also the nation. 

Request a plot or volunteer to help plant and harvest today, and start contributing to a more sustainable society tomorrow.

Follow Brianna Darling on Twitter

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