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A sneak peek into UNT’s Community Garden

A sneak peek into UNT’s Community Garden

April 07
15:54 2017

About a year ago, plans to build a community garden on campus were approved and actions were in full gear. As we are nearing the beginning of March, planters are in place, plot ownerships are being decided and the garden is almost ready for action.

“It has been a long process,” sustainability coordinator Gary Cocke said, who has been working in the Office of Student Sustainability since the fall 2015.

Prior to UNT, Cocke had worked in the Plano Sustainability Program with a community garden, so he was familiar with how the process worked.

Cocke recalls his first day on the job back in 2015, when then senior integrative studies student Alyssa Wolverton approached him with ideas and suggestions for the community garden.

Now a public education master’s student, Wolverton said she’s been a student on campus since 2012 and ideas for a community garden had been around for about four years prior to her becoming a student. When the Office of Sustainability reopened in 2015, after it closed in 2011, she said she went right to Cocke’s office with ideas and questions on how to make UNT more sustainable.

The plans for a community garden skyrocketed from there.

“The idea was already there, we just needed the right people,” Wolverton said.

At the time, Wolverton was the president of UNT’s sustainability club, where she teamed up with the community garden club president Elaine Ballard, after realizing that UNT had no community garden of its own.

A stone of dedication located inside of the garden. Amber Nasser

The two girls, along with the help of five other students, Arun Surujpaul, Thomas Mendez, Leonardo Acosta, Darby McMakin, and Kayla Lopez, put together the proposal.

“It just kind of came together,” Cocke said.

The project was turned over to geography senior Kristin Fraizer, who is the community garden facilitator with the office of sustainability.

After being hired last June, Fraizer has been determined to make sure this garden is everything the students want.

“I came on board after the project had been approved by the ‘We Mean Green fund,’” said Fraizer.

The “We Mean Green” fund is a pool of money collected from all students. The fee is five dollars a semester and is included within the midst of tuition costs. Students pay into this as a part of our environmental science fee, which is dedicated to improving UNT’s impact on sustainability and increase environmental improvements.

“I’m really excited they’ve finally broken ground on it,” said Fraizer.

The official name of the space is “The UNT Community Garden,” but the garden is far from simplicity.

There are 20 raised garden beds included in the garden with two of the garden beds being ADA approved, meaning they are handicap accessible and “U” shaped for wheelchairs.

The garden will also be teaming up with Denton Master Naturalists, part of the Texas A&M AgriLife extension, to provide education opportunities for the students and plot owners. With a gazebo, picnic benches and a path that leads right through campus, the garden will be a new place for students to hang out.

“I did some research on best practices and contacted other universities that have community gardens [to get] a feel for what they were doing,” Fraizer said. “[I wanted to see] what has been successful for them [and] areas that they would have done differently, all so that we could come up with a plan that would work best here.”

Fraizer said the plot ownerships, free supplies and access to professionals are what make UNT’s community garden stand out from the rest.

“Everything is free, the supplies, the seeds and fertilizers, which are all organic, Fraizer said. “Everyone is already paying for it, so we want it to be accessible.”

Each garden bed will be deemed an owner, ranging from clubs, organizations, faculties, departments and groups of five or more students. Applications for plot ownership are still open, and will be closed Feb 24. If selected, plot ownership lasts for an entire year.

Plot owners will be required for regular maintenance and upkeep with the planters. In addition, there will be designated work days during every other Saturday of the month, where all the plot owners will show up and work together to improve the garden. On work days, there will be professionals to help.

Though it is a lot of work, Fraizer said it will be extremely rewarding.

“Everything grown within the planters belongs to the plot owners,” Fraizer said.

For plot owners, that means organic vegetables and fruits at their fingertips. Donations are always encouraged, and plans to make donations easier are still in the works.

Cocke said he plans on letting the community garden club take the lead on future activities and events that will be held in the garden.

“In the future, we see live acoustic performances, potluck dinners and any other student suggestions for the garden,” Cocke said.

The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be from 11 am to 2 pm on April 20 in front of Legends Hall, just hours before UNTs EarthFest in the Library Mall and days before Earth Day.

“This isn’t an immediate process,” Fraizer said. “It takes time, labor, attention and love.”

Featured Image: Overview of the uncompleted community-garden located outside of Legends Hall, behind the POHL Rec. Center. Amber Nasser

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Nina Quatrino

Nina Quatrino

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1 Comment

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    homescapes guides February 04, 05:03

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