What is a Community Garden?
According to the American Community Garden Association, a community garden is “any piece of land gardened by a group of people” (ACGA link). They vary in scope, location, and what they grow. For example a community garden can:
- Be located just about anywhere (urban, rural, suburban)
- Grow a variety of vegetation (vegetables, flowers, herbs, etc.)
- Be individual or communal plots
- Be owned and operated by all types of organizations such as schools, universities, neighborhoods, hospitals and churches
Benefits of a Community Garden?
Community gardens have numerous benefits depending on the goal and scope of each garden. Benefits include:
- Promoting health and wellness
- Providing a sense of community
- Educating people about food production and nutrition
- Serving the community through food donation
- Beautifying spaces and reducing the heat island effect (occurs in built environments where the temperature is higher than in rural surroundings)
History of the UNTHSC Community Garden
The UNTHSC Sustainability Committee founded a subcommittee in 2012 to begin and manage a community garden here on campus at the request of many people here on campus. The subcommittee distributed a survey to the campus in April 2013 which showed strong support for the garden. Guidelines were created, and the garden received funds from the Sustainability Committee and donations from various organizations including:
- Archie’s Gardenland
- Calloway’s Nursery
- Four Star Cafe
- Freehling’s Tree Service
- Marshall Grain Co.
- Silver Creek Materials
- St. Emilion Restaurant
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Tarrant County
- UNTHSC Facilities Management
The garden was built in February 2014 when over 40 volunteers came to the site to build the plots, fill them with soil, and mulch the paths. The garden started with 16 (4’x12′) plots but we have since expanded to a total of 35 plots. The plots are maintained by students, staff and faculty, and each plot is required to donate at least 25% of their yield to a local food bank. In 2015, we donated over 121 lbs. of fresh, organic produce which translates to approximately 485 servings of fruits, vegetables and herbs!
The garden includes many sustainable features such as rain barrels, upcycled picnic tables (from old pallets), native landscaping, and compost bins. In 2015, approximately 1320 lbs. of food waste was diverted from the landfill! The food waste was collected from the cafe on campus, Four Star Cafe, and the neighboring restaurant, Stain-Emilion Restaurant. Learn more about all the 2015 accomplishments in our annual report!