With a campus as large as ours, there’s bound to be a few spots unknown to professors and students alike. Tucked behind the gym, just passed the water tower and at the bottom of that hill lies a sizable nook chocked full of beautiful scenery, elegant greenery and magnificent architecture.
Here, UWF’s very own garden club, lead by none other than Dr. Tomso of the Kugelman Honors Program, has worked tirelessly for the last ten years to transform what used to be an illegal garbage dump into our very own Narnia.
It has been a struggle for them. Dr. Tomso tells almost every volunteer the story about the founding of the garden and how many years the garden club was dedicated to simply clearing, cleaning and recultivating the land.
Now, it lies as a grand oasis on a side of campus that is fairly barren in terms of nature. Here are five facts that you may not have known about UWF’s community garden:
1. They are giving away free plants to the community this month.
On April 17th, the Garden Club is hosting their annual Donation Drive and Plant Giveaway, where participants can come to learn more about the garden as well as how to get involved. The best part? At the end of the day, you get to walk away with one of several kinds of plants, including vegetables, herbs, and flowers, all grown by the students.
2. Almost everything in the garden was built or planted by students.
Dr. Tomso may have organized the club and formed the plan for the land, but all of the clearing, planting and building was done by students both in the garden club or acting as volunteers. With, Dr. Tomso’s guidance, students managed to clear the land, lay the stone pathways and even construct the planters.
To top all of that off, the entire layout is designed to be enjoyable by everyone. All of the walkways are created with the OSHA handicap accessible guidelines in mind. Additionally, the planters are measured to be the perfect height and width to allow wheelchair users to be able to interact with and enjoy the plants without strain or discomfort.
3. All of the food grown by the garden is organic and pesticide free.
In the care for each individual plant species within the garden’s purview, no pesticides or artificial fertilizers are used so as not to damage the plant or taint the growth. This makes the garden’s vegetables particularly healthy which benefits the secondary cause for them. All of the food grown here is given back into the campus community, either to the members of the garden club, based on their need or donated to the students through an outlet similar to the Argo Pantry.
4. There are countless active and planned projects for the future.
The garden club has big plans to expand the already large garden space. The first began with the current president visiting a local mushroom farm. Since then, the most recent addition has been a damp clearing with limited light and a tub of water to facilitate the growth of several different varieties of edible mushrooms. Other plans for the near future include adding herbal teas to the garden to give students natural remedies available right on campus.
5. All are welcome to volunteer or contribute to the garden.
The garden club has several work days scheduled each semester where students can come for a few hours and help contribute, even if they aren’t interested in joining the garden club. These opportunities for networking and learning how to care for plants as well as how to protect wildlife in doing so can be found on their website and don’t require you to sign up for anything to get involved.
If you’re looking to get involved, you can reach out to the UWF Garden Club directly or check out their calendar of events on their website, here.