North Texas Daily

Campus Community Garden Approved

Campus Community Garden Approved

March 10
02:57 2016

Hannah Lauritzen | Design Editor

@Hannahbanana315

Numerous proposals for a campus community garden have fallen flat in the past, but a new proposal made by a group of seven students has just been approved.

The $153,498 project will be located in the space between Legends Hall and North Texas Lofts. The We Mean Green Fund will put $81,498.91 toward the community garden and the UNT administration is contributing the remaining $70,000. 

“If you see the space now, it’s a bunch of grass,” said integrative studies senior Alyssa Wolverton, who worked on the garden proposal committee. “I can’t wait for that space to be transformed into something people can be proud of.”

The garden will contain about 16 plots that can be reserved by groups and organizations on campus. Native Texas plants will line the perimeter of the space and a gazebo will act as the centerpiece of the garden. The garden will also feature a tool shed and compost bin.

When she first came to UNT, mathematics sophomore Elaine Ballard was surprised there wasn’t already a community garden on campus. Other universities such as Texas A&M, University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston all have their own gardens.

After creating the UNT Community Garden Club with a group of students interested in the venture, Ballard found out hers wasn’t the first group to attempt to build a garden.

“Since I started the group, I have been contacted by probably five people, all saying they had also tried to do the same thing, with no luck so far,” Ballard said.

Ballard teamed up with Wolverton, who has her own club, Meaning Green at UNT. Together they formed a committee to create the proposal for the community garden. It consisted of Wolverton, Ballard, Thomas Mendez, Meaning Green at UNT club members Kayla Lopez and Darby McMackin, and UNT Community Garden club members Leo Acosta and Arun Surujpaul.

In November, the committee surveyed students about their interest in a community garden. Out of the 1,000 responses, 95 percent said they wanted to see a community garden on campus and about two-thirds said they were willing to put in at least 30 minutes of work per week, committee members said.

Wolverton said the survey, which was never done before by past community garden proposals, was a definitive part of getting the garden approved. Wolverton said one of the biggest setbacks was pushback from the Design Review Board.

“I don’t know exactly what was different this time, maybe it was the politics,” Wolverton said. “But [Elizabeth] With said it was just a good proposal and she had not seen a proposal that was like ours come to the forefront, which surprises me, because they had experts working on those past proposals and we’re just a bunch of students.”

After presenting their proposal in late February, they received a voicemail from sustainability coordinator Gary Cocke.

“He was like, ‘Hey guys, this is your sustainability godfather’ and he let us know that it got approved,” Ballard said. “I think I might have cried a little bit. It’s really good to see a project that we’ve been working on for like six months straight come to fruition.” 

In a timeline outlined in the committee’s approved proposal, the hope is for the project to be completed in December and be operational by Spring 2017.

Two plots will be reserved for educational purposes, with the goal being to attract students from Denton ISD to learn more about UNT and general efforts to become more sustainable.

Featured Image: Rendering of new garden. Courtesy 

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