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Students show off vegetable garden

BY MARY HARRINGTON | APRIL 23, 2009 7:29 AM

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From a small plot of West Campus land, a new university garden will provide fresh crops for IMU diners.

The new student-run garden will grow vegetables for volunteer gardeners and on-campus eaters alike, with the bulk of each garden harvest traveling to IMU kitchens.

“The students decided that finding a way to grow food themselves and then incorporate it into the campus would be a great way to learn about regional food systems as well as the practical skills involved in gardening,” said UI graduate student Adam Perkins, the manager of the garden.

Perkins and student volunteers grow everything from potatoes to peas on the one-third acre. Last year, the group had a plot of tilled land near North Hall, but the space was too shady. Now, members of the UI Environmental Coalition finally have the proper location to further one of the group’s eco-friendly goals.

For some of these devoted volunteers, every weekend is kicked off with a Friday After Class session of afternoon gardening rather than downtown drinking.

“It’s always wonderful to play around in the dirt,” said UI sophomore Jacob Snyder. “I hope to spend as much time out here at the garden as possible.”

On Wednesday, several volunteers helped construct a new greenhouse that will function as a plant home throughout the seasons. The portable structure was purchased with more than $4,500 granted to the coalition from the UI Student Government. The greenhouse and garden will operate on campus for many years to come, Perkins said.

“We have some of the best soil in the world right here in Iowa, so I’m glad we can actually do something beneficial with what we already have available,” said Stephanie Enloe, the coalition’s president. “In this area there’s already a push for a good local food system. We’re just pushing that further, into education.”

Perkins said the garden will be integrated into the university’s environmental science classes as a volunteer opportunity and made available to teachers and students from the Iowa City Community School District as a learning location.

“This garden is a great example of our sustainability efforts at the UI, and I’m very proud of the students who initiated this effort,” UI President Sally Mason said in a statement.

Today at 1:30 p.m., Mason will visit the garden for an open house hosted by the UI Environmental Coalition and the Office of Sustainability. The event is a part of the on-campus Earth Week activities.


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