UNC Charlotte student garden thriving, building community

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Great minds are growing at UNC Charlotte and not just intellectually. Through a community garden, UNC Charlotte students and graduates are working together to raise healthy food for those in need.

Community Garden at UNC Charlotte president Rebecca Byrd said community is key to this campus endeavor. Tucked in a sun-washed corner between Robinson Hall and the Storrs Building, the community garden promotes sustainable urban agriculture practices and inspires outside initiatives while building community.

“Each season, we [the Student Community Garden] give produce to the Niner Student Pantry,” said Byrd. “This past semester, we provided the pantry with some varieties of lettuce, collard greens, Swiss chard and cabbage.”

The Niner Student Pantry, located at 1224 John Kirk Drive, works to “ensure food security, human dignity, and well-being on campus by providing in-need UNC Charlotte students with healthy, culturally appropriate emergency food,” according to its website.

In collaborating across campus, the Community Garden at UNC Charlotte, a student organization, enables its members to take pride in and ownership of the garden, and in turn, they gain awareness and knowledge of “green” initiatives taking place in the greater Charlotte region.

For fall 2016, the community garden plans to partner with local organizations to bring fresh, pesticide-free produce to off-campus organizations. In the upcoming semester, Byrd will focus on raising awareness and sparking discussion surrounding food politics.

An Africana studies major, Byrd said the garden is an on-campus escape for students, too. “With everything going on — classes, tests and professors — the garden is a relaxing place to go to that’s on campus. The location is perfect, it’s not too sunny. Plus, you have the hammocks and swinging chairs under the pergola (a gazebo-like outdoor structure).”

Students tend the garden year round, taking turns watering the plants daily throughout the summer. During fall/spring semesters, members meet at 3 p.m., Tuesdays, to discuss plans for crops, including transplant and harvesting schedules and best options to grow for the season.

More information on the Community Garden at UNC Charlotte is on the Web.