Garden offers UH a green way to give back
The benefits of community gardens are numerous when it comes the promotion of health and wellness, a place for leisure, creation of wildlife habitats and providing food for those in need. The Campus Community Garden at the University strives to engage students in supporting continuous growth for global development.
The garden, located beside the Cougar Woods dining hall on the corner of Cullen and Wheeler, was started in 2010 and is planted and maintained by interested students, staff and faculty.
Campus Community Coordinator and biology senior Casey Hall was originally thinking about going to medical school, but she began to enjoy the community and horticulture from the garden activities.
“I essentially run the garden, with advice from Urban Harvest,” Hall said.
Urban Harvest, a community-based organization that helps local groups, designed the Campus Community Garden and helps schools develop community gardens for food production and habitats.
A contract between UH and Urban Harvest offers guidance and materials to help the garden prosper. Hall decides what, when and where to plant.
Some community garden participants are experienced in working in gardens and others are new to it.
English literature and economics freshman Emily Johnson volunteers her time for three hours every other week at the community garden, where she helps with weeding.
“Right now, I am focusing on cleaning the garden up to make it more productive as far as produce amount,” she said.
Biology sphomore Lowell Levo is a volunteer who is open to helping with whatever tasks are assigned to him.
“I do not have a specific duty when I volunteer. That could mean that I could be weeding the beds, harvesting the crops and/or filling the beds with fresh soil,” Levo said.
Hall is working on adding two grape trellises and a butterfly garden with some fruit trees and benches for students to sit outside and enjoy the garden.
The garden already grows plants such as tomatoes, sugar cane, pomegranates, okra, sweet potatoes, sweet peas, mint and roses. There is a bed with strawberries, while others have kale, bok choy, cauliflower and broccoli.
“It is a bit late in the season for growing okra, but it is beginning to produce,” said Hall. “Mostly vegetables are grown, but I intend to add a few fruiting bushes, fruiting trees and fruiting vines.”
The food that is left over is donated to the Manna House on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.