Students Start Community-Maintained Garden on Trinity University Campus

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The Office of University Communications
(210) 999-8406
Sep. 27, 2011

Students Start Community-Maintained Garden on Trinity University Campus

Long-term goal is to engage more volunteers in sustainability project

By Jennifer Lewis '13

SAN ANTONIO - Trinity University students are accustomed to cultivating their minds. Now they are practicing a new form of cultivation - a new garden outside Storch Memorial Building that represents a sustainable eco-space on campus.

Such a project should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Trinity's ambitious student population. Plans for the garden began in previous semesters but became a reality this fall, thanks to the sponsorship of the environmental studies department. Tomato, basil, cucumber, and serrano and jalapeño pepper seeds have been planted so far, but students hope to include other kinds of vegetation such as fruits, flowers, and more herbs as time goes on.

Volunteers are eager to discuss ways to continue this project. Senior Libby Day, one of the students spearheading the garden's formation, acknowledged the challenge of a student-maintained garden, saying that students are very eager to be involved but interest could conceivably wane during midterms, finals, and holiday breaks. She hopes students can make an "individual investment" in the garden that will persevere during busy weeks.

This is not Trinity's first attempt at a student-maintained community garden. Ten years ago, Annie Blackwell '05 planted a community garden in the Laurie Auditorium jogging fields for a Student-Led Seminar on Sustainable Development. Although the garden eventually withered away, it was successfully maintained during the class.

Barbara MacAlpine, associate professor and librarian at Trinity, revived the same garden plot in 2009 for her First Year Seminar, "Making a Difference for a Livable Planet," in which students planted and sustained a garden for the semester. Her husband, Gordon MacAlpine, the Zilker Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, also used the garden for his First Year Seminar "Energy, Climate, and Gardening" and physics class, "The Earth's Changing Environment." The plot has been used for several semesters since, yet suffers when students do not have an obligation to maintain it in between semesters.

With the knowledge of how past attempts at a garden have fared on Trinity's campus, students are aware of the challenge they are facing - especially because other instances of a Trinity community garden have kept the gardeners accountable by threat of a poor grade. Many of the students who began this fall's Garden Initiative, such as Day, junior Mitch Hagney, junior Katherine Duffy, junior Katherine Banick, senior Jane Wilberding, and senior Audrey Nobles, acknowledged the difficulties of scheduling watering duties and maintenance days around students' agendas. Since most of the students involved are seniors, the group's primary objective is to get underclassmen engaged and develop a social community centered on the garden so that friends can maintain interest while they share a passion. Students also hope to spread word about green sustainability and encourage others to become involved in local community gardens around San Antonio.

Text and photos provided by Jennifer Lewis of Austin, Texas, a candidate for graduation from Trinity University in May 2013 with a degree in art and English. She is a student writer for the Office of University Communications.