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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA student revives campus garden

Savannah Douglas
Savannah Douglas // The Daily Wildcat Loren Dick, a sociology senior, has planted a garden located at the UA Udall Center. Currently, Tohono O’odham corn is growing.

A UA student is working to bring a sense of home to the campus through the rejuvenation of a dormant garden.

Loren Dick, who grew up on the Navajo Nation, said coming to the university was a culture shock. When Dick, a sociology senior, stumbled across a community garden near his workplace, he took it as an opportunity to implement his traditions at the UA.

“It really brings back a sense of home from the reservation here to the city of Tucson,” Dick said. “It brings a sense of culture into the urban setting.”

The One Tree Garden officially opened in 2010 as part of a project run through the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. Students were allowed to plant in and maintain the garden, located on the Udall Center grounds at the northeast corner of First Street and Euclid Avenue.

However, as time passed, the garden was abandoned. With the foundation already in place, Dick decided to begin growing crops again in the spring of this year. He rebuilt the fence around the garden, purchased soil and received seeds through Native Seeds, a nonprofit seed conservation organization located in Tucson that provides a limited amount of free seeds to Native peoples, Dick said.

Dick began planting Navajo watermelon, corn, pinto beans and squash around March. Dick said that as a child, he would run and play in the large fields of corn his grandfather grew, which impacted his decision about what to grow in his garden.

“When I was going through the selection of finding out what I was going to grow, corn and watermelon really stuck out,” Dick said. “It really brought back a sense of memory from the reservation.”

The Native Nations Institute, where Dick is employed, recently hosted a harvest where staff members were able to enjoy some of the crops that Dick had planted.

“I think Loren [Dick] has really grown, not only as a student worker, but as someone who can work and maintain his own garden,” said Akenabah Begay, administrative associate for the Native Nations Institute. “This shows that students can take on a lot of roles as being part of the U of A.”

Other efforts by the UA to promote gardening include a school garden internship that is run through the school of Geography and Development. The internship allows university students to go out to Tucson gardens to participate in educational outreach with local schools and community groups, according to Jesse Minor, interim director of the Office of Sustainability.

“One of the reasons why gardens make so much sense on the UA campus is that it speaks back to the land grant mission of this university,” Minor said. “It allows taking research and tying that in with teaching and community outreach. Gardens promote a unique form of student engagement that really plays to the strengths of this university.”

Dick said that this winter he will let the ground rest in the garden and rebuild nutrients, while he works on composting so he can fertilize his crops in the spring.

However, he said his ultimate goal is to increase the amount of students involved with the garden.

“A community garden is really meant for a lot of people to grow things,” Dick said. “Even after I’m done, I hope people will be able to pick this up and continue with it.”

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