All About the Edible Campus Gardens
- Written by Margot Langue
The University of Utah is home to three Edible Campus Gardens (ECG), [located across campus], and managed by a wonderful garden coordinator, Gabrielle James, and team of Garden Steward Interns. The ECG is a food justice-focused program on campus that is student supported and campus oriented. The gardens serve the commitment to campus as a living lab; the goal being to pair academic studies to campus resources, partnered with research, to produce learning activities that additionally give back to the campus community. The gardens have partnered with many student project groups for research and non-research projects, both past and present, such as SCIF Grant students working to create a seed library satellite location, faculty researchers examining the utilization of compost to remediate damage from mining, and a study that tests compostability of marketed ‘compost-friendly’ products and bioplastics in composting bins at the gardens. Beyond research, there are many ways to get involved with the Edible Campus Gardens. Paid Garden Stewardship internship positions are an excellent way to gain experience in sustainable agriculture and food justice, lead volunteer groups, and get to be outside all growing season! These positions are paid, typically hired at the start of the spring semester each year, with some experience preferred but not required. Volunteer shifts are another opportunity in which you can gain beneficial sustainable agriculture and food justice experience and education, while also gaining service hours and interpersonal relationships. Volunteers should sign up for the newsletter on the ECG webpage, and follow the Instagram account @sustainableuofu for information on volunteer shifts. There are also courses that work directly in the garden, like Organic Gardening & Sustainable Agriculture (ENVST 3280), where you learn the importance of sustainable agriculture practices, and are given the tools to implement them into your own garden. There are also courses that have affiliations with the ECG that range from one-time tours, or weekly writing sessions in the gardens themselves. Any interested faculty should coordinate with Gabrielle James to have the Edible Campus Gardens be a component of their course.
Food justice is an important aspect of the Edible Campus Gardens, as is eating locally, and applying sustainable agricultural practices. Garden coordinator, Gabrielle James, affirms that community centered garden programs connect communities and allow for community members to support sustainable, local, organizations and their community. In addition to the ECG, there are many local small urban farms and community gardens across the Salt Lake Valley, all of which are cared for by a loving community who ensure the food they produce is healthy, and are attentive to the land they work on, while being mindful of sustainable practices and accessibility of nutritious foods to everyone in their community. The Edible Campus Gardens are a force for food justice, all produce is given away to the campus community for free, largely through the FeedU Pantry, but produce can also be found in the U of U Farmer’s Market or ECG Pop-Ups in the Marriott Library Square.
Interested in getting involved? Contact Gabrielle James (email@example.com)! They would love for anyone to come, volunteer, propose research or project ideas, or bring their classes to the gardens!