Community Garden Interview
What exactly is a community garden?
The campus garden is actually not going to be a community garden. A community garden like the one that exists near the Innovation Center in Whitewater sells plots to individuals to garden during the season. They share water and tools, but have their own plots. Our campus garden will be managed by the same larger group of individuals as one large plot. This could be more accurately be called the “campus organic garden.”
What is the point of a community garden, why should I care?
A garden is important for providing local, organic food inexpensively. Organic produce is important because conventional produce uses intensive farming methods that are highly reliant on fossil fuel inputs as fertilizer, pesticides, and fuel for equipment. Not only does this produce have a high carbon footprint as a result, but it also can have adverse health effects through pesticide exposure. Eating organically helps avoid the pesticide exposure and lowers the carbon footprint, but often the produce is still shipped in from hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away. Given the more intensive methods, but many of the same transportation costs, often the prices are significantly higher than conventionally grown produce.
A garden helps provide this superior produce to individuals at a much lower cost because the fossil fuel inputs are often nearly zero because of the local, small-scale production.
Where is this going to be located?
The garden will be located in several circular plots located in the vacant lot between Moraine Bookstore and Ambrose Health Center.
How big will it be?
The nine circle plots total approximately 1440 square feet. We plan on cultivating seven of the nine plots in total for vegetables, and will put flowers for cutting and for bird seed in the remaining two. We will also be assisting the Children’s Center in Roseman to get their garden beds set up.
Who will take care of and plant the garden?
The garden is being planned and implemented as part of a Service Learning course through Geography, with Tom Karthausser and Kara Meissen as advisors. Since then, we have recruited a team of students, faculty, and staff interested in helping us maintain the garden over the summer while the Service Learning students are gone. I am providing logistical and planning support and Cameron Barker, an RA and VP-elect of SAGE, is functioning as our student manager and has been helping Tom in the Upham Greenhouse getting our plants started. We have gotten a great response and team of people interested in helping and will be looking for more people looking to get involved.
What will be grown in the garden?
We have a variety of seeds already started for transplant, including broccoli, swiss chard, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and zucchini. Some items, such as carrots, will be planted directly in the ground.
Where will the produce go?
During the first year, the garden will be substantially grant funded through the Student Sustainability Fund. The produce for our first year will be primarily donated to the Whitewater Food Pantry, but we will be exploring partnerships with UW-W Dining Services and other local restaurants to help make the garden financially sustainable in future years.
How can I get involved with the garden?
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 472-6709 to express your interest and discuss your level of knowledge about gardening. We welcome all interested people, regardless of experience, as much of the garden will be a learning process for those of us who are planning it as well! We are specifically looking for people who will be in Whitewater during the summer, when most of the help is needed.
Any other questions you think should be answered please just add them!