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UTSA Community Garden Plants Roots March 4

UTSA’s Green Society and the Department of Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition—in conjunction with the Facilities Department—have developed a campus demonstration garden, to be unveiled March 4.  Financed by the UTSA Green Fund, the UTSA Community Garden is located in the southwest corner of the main campus adjacent to Brackenridge Ave Lot 5.

“We’ll be opening up the beds for campus organizations, departments, and student groups to claim plots, and they will be able to grow what they want,” said Green Society member Anthony Govea.  “One of the plots we’ve planned will be a companion-planting ‘three sisters’ plot with corn, beans, and squash, which will also serve as a demo plot for the other plots.  There is a slight preference towards vegetables, but herbs and ornamentals will be accepted.”

Applications for the garden plots were accepted through March 1 for the spring term.  Student groups received top priority.

Email The Green Society for more information.

About the UTSA Community Garden

The UTSA Community Garden has truly been a community effort from start to finish: the garden exists today thanks to the vision and hard work of students, faculty, and staff over a period of nearly four years.

In 2013, two students, Christine DeMyers with R3 (Roadrunners for Renewable Resources) and Merced Carbajal with the Green Society, drew up the first formal Green Fund proposal for a community garden.  Over the next two years, their proposal was revised and refined with input from staff members Daniel Sibley, Director of Space Utilization (now retired) and Lani Cabico, Senior Environmental Planner, both veteran home gardeners.  Then, in 2015, the Green Society and the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition (DKHN) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) expressing their joint commitment to the garden project.

With an updated design and commitment from a registered student organization (RSO) and a UTSA academic department, the garden steering committee (including representatives from the Green Society and DKHN) submitted a revised proposal to the Green Fund Committee in February 2016.  The Green Fund Committee approved the revised proposal, and VPBA Sam Gonzalez signed off on the proposal one month later.

In Fall 2016, the garden project gained additional traction when UTSA’s Director of Sustainability, Keith Muhlestein, agreed to take on the responsibility of managing the garden funds and finalizing negotiations with GCA Services, the contractor in charge of building the garden.  His advocacy was essential to seeing our project through to completion—as was the support of Dave Riker, AVP of Facilities.

Today, we on the garden steering committee are excited to get planting: already, a range of student groups have applied for plots, including 9 for 17, Black Lives Matter, Green Society, Top Scholars, and other, non-affiliated student groups.  Their motivations are diverse: to promote environmental sustainability, to take charge of their personal health, to ensure food access and equity for underserved populations—but their common passion brings them together.  What a great reminder that gardening is for everyone.

Lindsay G. Ratcliffe
Lecturer III, UTSA Writing Program
Faculty Advisor, Green Society at UTSA

Community garden brings new growth to UTSA — Featured in UTSA Today

(March 6, 2017) — The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is extending its sustainability focus with the new UTSA community garden. Student groups, faculty, staff and alumni can now grow their own fruits and vegetables to eat, share and reproduce.

“The students’ motivations are diverse: to promote environmental sustainability, to take charge of their personal health, to ensure food access and equity for underserved populations—but their common passion brings them together,” said Lindsay Ratcliffe, faculty adviser for the Green Society at UTSA. “What a great reminder that gardening is for everyone.”

UTSA students began promoting the idea for a community garden in 2013. With additional input from the Green Society at UTSA, the UTSA Office of Sustainability and experienced home gardeners, the project finally came to fruition. Financed by the Green Fund, which assists the university’s efforts in sustainability, the garden is a community effort.

“Our goal is to influence more people at UTSA to practice sustainability by planting their own food,” said Anthony Govea, UTSA cybersecurity senior and Green Society project coordinator. “Students learn to grow food on campus, then apply that knowledge by planting a garden at home, further benefiting the environment and reducing waste.”

Located on the southwest corner of the UTSA Main Campus near Brackenridge Ave. Lot 5, the garden features six raised beds. Five of them are 3′ x 30′ and each divided into three plots. The sixth bed is raised higher to provide wheelchair accessibility.

One of the plots will combine corn, beans and squash to serve as a demonstration plot for the others.

“Planting different crops together is symbolic in that the vegetables work together to be more fruitful and productive,” said Govea.

The Green Society will provide seeds and training to help plot owners get started. Govea hopes the garden also becomes a gathering place for students to learn more about sustainability.

Govea said that organizers hope to host a farmer’s market on campus in the near future to share the crops with the community. They also want to provide produce to the Roadrunner Pantry to share with students in need.

Several student groups have already reserved plots. Faculty, staff and alumni groups are also encouraged to plant if space is available.

Courtney Clevenger