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Students plan to grow green on UM’s campus with Comm”U”nity Garden

GOING GREEN: A sketch of the proposed community garden, which one student organization is hoping to establish on the Coral Gables campus, which would bring UM in line with other Florida schools like Miami-Dade College, FIU, UF and UCF. In contrast to those schools, UM's garden wouldn't only be for research purposes, but for students to grow their own vegetables in an attempt to make the UM Campus more sustainable.  COURTESY BRIAN LEMMERMAN

GOING GREEN: A sketch of the proposed community garden, which one student organization is hoping to establish on the Coral Gables campus, which would bring UM in line with other Florida schools like Miami-Dade College, FIU, UF and UCF. In contrast to those schools, UM's garden wouldn't only be for research purposes, but for students to grow their own vegetables in an attempt to make the UM Campus more sustainable. COURTESY BRIAN LEMMERMAN

Through the combined efforts of an up-and-coming organization, a student-run garden may soon be sprouting on campus, bringing with it a sense of community, responsibility and a chance to get your hands dirty.

The organization responsible for this green initiative is known as the Comm”U”nity Garden – or will be soon. The group is awaiting COSO’s approval to make it official.

“We don’t have to go through COSO, but we would like to make it official to create a lasting impact,” said Naomi Ross, the secretary of Emerging Green Builders. She has been working on the project for the past year.

The specifics of the garden are being negotiated with various members of the administration, said Michael Schoor, a junior majoring in ecosystems science and policy and the originator of the idea for this project.

The announcement of a prospective site on campus for the garden is pending – and after two-and-a-half years in the works on the parts of both students and administrators, it will signify the culmination of their efforts.

Other schools in Florida with gardens on their campuses include Miami-Dade College, FIU, UF and UCF, but the garden at UM will differ in that it won’t only serve research or aesthetic purposes – it will be for the students who help cultivate it, too.

The students have received close guidance on their plans for the garden from Denis Hector, associate dean of the School of Architecture, as well as the school’s dean, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. Adrian Hunsberger, a master grower at UF, will aid the students on issues such as soil and water conservation, the reuse of nutrients and composting.

Benefits of having a garden on the UM campus include: having one less area for UNICCO workers to maintain, providing a public gathering space, building a sense of community and serving as a potential food source for students who choose to grow produce.

“I think UM could potentially be a leader in ingenuity and innovation. Because of the immense talent and possibilities that this school holds, we could be competing with schools like Harvard and Princeton,” Schoor said in an interview on Tuesday.

Organizations that are actively involved in the launching of the garden project include Earth Alert, Emerging Green Builders, Engineers Without Borders and the sorority Delta Gamma.

Once the garden is off the ground, various organizations are interested in participating, such as Green Peace, Beta Beta Beta, the Marine Mammal Stranding Team and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Schoor said he wants the garden to serve as a means of unifying people from all corners of UM.

The proposed design for the garden will be in the shape of a “U” with 4’x4’ raised concrete beds to hold the soil and plants so as to remain non-invasive. The center of the “U” would serve as a gathering place.

Brian Lemmerman, a senior and the president of Emerging Green Builders said, “Our campus looks like a golf course. That is not sustainable – it’s a problem.” The garden is one of the first steps for students to aid in pursuing a greener “U” for the future.

March 5, 2009

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Jessica Hodder Contributing News Writer


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