A New Year, A New Growing Season

As the fall semester ended and students went home for the holidays, the Campus Garden Initiative’s inaugural growing season also came to a close. In 2011, the Campus Garden Initiative grew from an intangible idea to a collectively designed pilot program with big plans for 2012.

In March, the Campus Garden Initiative broke ground at the Bryan House, the traditional president’s home. A 900 square foot pilot garden was created and come April, the garden was planted with 28 varieties of seeds donated from local growers.

The Hilltop Garden, measuring 8500 square feet in size, will be the home to the initiatives central garden during the 2012 growing season.

Using inspiration from a three-part public collective design series, the Bryan House Garden attempted to model physically, how to grow food in a campus setting, and programmatically, how to sustain a campus garden through volunteer and academic programming.

The summer months brought harvest and fun as volunteers attended weekly workdays at the garden and learned how to tend to, harvest, and prepare a variety of vegetables and herbs growing at the Bryan House. Undergraduate classes, campus daycare programs, and community groups also came to the garden to participate in special programming.

Volunteer workdays continued through the end of October. By the point, 79 volunteers had contributed 230 hours to the garden, helping to harvest 74.375 pounds of produce. However, work associated with the IU Campus Garden Initiative was anything but over.

In November, garden volunteers contributed their time and energy to the preparation of a new space for cultivation — the initiative’s first central campus garden at Hilltop Garden and Nature Center. Here, 13 new volunteers joined veteran gardeners to contribute 56.15 hours to the initiative until it was too cold to work any more.

Once the weather warms a little again, the 2012 growing season will begin. This time, the Garden Initiative will benefit from an increase in physical and human capital. The new garden at Hilltop will be 8,500 square feet in size and will increase the edible gardening space overseen by the Campus Garden Initiative almost 10-fold.

The Campus Garden Initiative will have grown in human capital as well. The Edible Campus Steering Committee was recently formed to develop academic partnerships, community outreach opportunities and volunteer programming in support of edible gardening spaces, such as the Bryan House Garden and the new central campus garden, that enhance the historical character of the IU Bloomington campus. The committee, made up of 35 faculty, staff, and students, is co-chaired by Campus View Childcare staff member, Amy Roche and Anthropology faculty member, Catherine Tucker.

With the support of campus and community stakeholders, garden initiative organizers hope the central campus garden will become a place where the campus community can engage in food production through curricular and co-curricular programming, providing food for a variety of on- and off-campus vendors.

The Campus Garden Initiative, a project of the IU Office of Sustainability in partnership with Campus Division and Hilltop Gardens, aims to foster environmental and social sustainability by creating interactive, edible gardening spaces on the Bloomington campus.

To learn more about the initiative, visit iugarden.wordpress.com. To volunteer in 2012, e-mail iugarden@indiana.edu.

Written by Stephanie Hopkins, Campus Garden Intern.

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