North Texas Daily

UNT community garden continues to grow deeper roots

UNT community garden continues to grow deeper roots

UNT community garden continues to grow deeper roots
October 22
10:00 2018

Guiding plot members around the UNT community garden, garden facilitator Margaret Brookshire demonstrated how to pull suckers, small plant stems at the intersection of the larger stem and smaller branches of a tomato plant.

Brookshire came into the position of garden facilitator after only a semester as a plot member, when the previous one had graduated. She had managed a plot with some of her friends and now, as facilitator, she takes care of all of the logistical work for the garden.

“I am out at the garden almost every day to check on the plots and flowerbeds,” Brookshire said. “I’ll also check to see if the gardeners have placed any produce donations in our collection bin for the UNT Food Pantry, which I’ll take to be dropped off in the Union.”

Brookshire tends to a community herbal plot that any gardener can harvest from, which is owned by the We Mean Green Fund Committee and department. In the We Mean Green office, she plans garden workdays, workshops and runs the garden work days that take place a couple of Saturdays every month.

The garden, proposed to the We Mean Green Fund in 2015, was pitched by a group of UNT students.

Once funding of $70,000 had been secured, the garden was ready to be built.

A student plants broccoli in their garden plot at the UNT Community Garden. Seeds, tools and other equipment are all provided free to gardeners. Rachel Walters

Brookshire said that supplies for the garden are provided by the We Mean Green Fund and applications for plots are open all year round.

According to Brookshire, the We Mean Green Fund is a testament to UNT’s dedication to remaining environmentally and sustainably conscious.

“With the We Mean Green Fund, any UNT student, faculty or staff member can make a proposal for a project that will help the environment,” Brookshire said. “Students can serve on the We Mean Green Fund Committee to determine how these project ideas can be put into place. You can even make a difference at UNT just by choosing to eat at our vegan dining hall on campus.”

Though a majority of the plot members have had a stake in the garden for at least a semester, the garden makes it easy for others to join in on the work.

New to the garden, Alpha Phi Omega fraternity members Ryan Ferron and Adam Rutledge are doing their volunteer hours for their service.

Rutledge, a psychology and anthropology double major, had no experience in gardening until the garden workday. Ferron, on the other hand, has experience through his mother, who had tomato, basil and rosemary plants as well as flowers.

“The entire Apogee Stadium is powered by those wind turbines, and in the Union there’s that thing that shows the usage of electricity,” Ferron said. “[UNT] is very conscious about everything that they do. UNT is very green.”

Interior design senior Kayla Ortego is the plot head for the Interior Design Student Alliance’s plot, of which she is marketing chair.

For her, trekking out to the garden on weekend mornings is all about continuing to promote sustainability through the plot her organization has had since April 2018.

“We decided to do this just because in our major, we want to promote a lot of sustainability,” Ortego said. “It can be a pretty wasteful industry.”

Assigned an abandoned plot, her organization left it alone to see what it would do, and before they knew it, an 8-foot sunflower had grown. Now, a few of the new plants it hosts includes mint, peas and a tomato plant.

“For me, this is like home,” Ortega said. She owned a community garden plot with her mother in her hometown and honed her gardening experience there, which she’s been able to transfer over into the UNT community garden.

A student plants broccoli in their garden plot at the UNT Community Garden. Seeds, tools and other equipment are all provided free to gardeners. Rachel Walters

Ortega acknowledges UNT’s green efforts in terms of its continued emphasis on recycling and riding bikes. She believes that through the effort and work ethic she has seen her fellow students and UNT community members put into the garden, people are living the green life too.

“You’re focusing on something outside of yourself — helping these little plants grow,” Ortega said.

Though most of the members come from backgrounds where gardening played a role, members of the club think gardening’s benefits are for everyone.

“For a lot of us it’s really therapeutic,” Ortega said. “We’re on the computer all day, every day, for our jobs and for school, so it’s good to reconnect with nature. It gives us another outlet and of course, we want to give back to the community.”

UNT library plot member Rebecca Durham has also gardened her whole life and believes that a great way for anyone to learn how to tend to plant life is by joining the gardening club.

“It’s a great opportunity for all of us to grow and love and share,” Durham said. “This is something people can do to [become] sustainable. I think it’s one of the most empowering things people can do right now. “

The garden will be hosting a master gardener on Nov. 3 and will start awarding Plot of the Month for the plot that has donated the most produce to the UNT’s food pantry.

As for those looking to learn how to garden, Brookshire has some key advice.

“Get started,” Brookshire said.

Featured Image: A student picks weeds near the gardening club’s plot during a community garden workday. The UNT Community Garden offers the opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to grow organic food and give back through the UNT Food Pantry. Rachel Walters

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Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

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