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Garden Enabling Students to Grow Their Own Food
Members of the Students for Sustainability Garden in the Desert want to offer the opportunity for UA students and others to grow their own food.
The team's demonstration One Tree Garden, where ground was broken between the Udall Center and the Drachman Institute in November 2009, is in the process of preparing for its next season of growing crops, said Caleb Weaver, project manager.
"There is actually going to be a lot of crops that are going to be put in the next few weeks as we do some major renovations to the site," said Weaver, a junior in geosciences and evolutionary biology.
Crops to be grown next include peas, beans, lentils, basil and corn, said team member Amy Mellor, a freshman in horticulture and American studies.
The project, initially small by design, is looking to expand in size and scope.
"It's a fairly small piece of property. It's not large by any stretch of the imagination," Weaver said. "What we are trying to do here is trying to have pretty much the same size garden as a regular urban area. We would not like to have anything larger because people don't have that much property at their disposal."
A second-generation community production garden, at a to-be-determined site, will be much larger than the current operation, Weaver said.
"Our goal with the community garden is to have members of the University and the community – students, faculty and whoever wants to grow their own food – able to do so. If they don't have a plot at home they will have a plot here. They will pay a small monthly fee for and they will be able to grow their own food and eat their own food as well," he said. "Hopefully with the food that is produced in the production garden, that will go into the University, into the Student Union, and will become a completely sustained garden that is paid for by the crops that are eventually produced."
The project combines sustainability and health benefits.
"I wanted to get involved because I wanted to food on campus to be more local and more sustainable. I didn't want to eat food that was shipped halfway around the world," Weaver said. "I didn't want to eat food that I didn't know where it came from or what it was grown in. And I wanted to make this aspect of sustainability available to everyone on campus."
"I am picky about what I eat, said Andre Domingues, who strives to avoid chemicals and other additives that can be found in some foods found in grocery stores. "I think it is important to eat local. I value very much organic and local gardening and local farming, and being able to support our local farmers."
So far One Tree Garden has produced crops including garlic, garbanzo beans, dill, several types of lettuce, beets and turnips, said Domingues, a freshman in Latin American studies and geography.
The results were tasty, Mellor said: "I've tried bits and pieces. I've tried arugula, and dill, and some of the turnip leaves. They were delicious."
Garden in the Desert also will have an educational aspect and will offer tips on how people can start their own gardens.
"There will be signage throughout the entire garden explaining the sustainable aspects of the garden. There will be opportunities for students to come on field drips and learn how to garden," Weaver said. "There will be aspects of global warming that will be tested in this garden with the National Phenology Network, which tests for the effects of global warming on plants."