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University Office of Sustainability to promote community garden

| Tuesday, February 19, 2019

On the corner of Ivy and Douglas Roads, across the street from Warren Golf Course, a lush plot of land tended by the Notre Dame community grows steadily, unbeknownst to many members of the Notre Dame community. This plot of land is home to the University’s campus garden, which is separated into two portions — a community and student section — both of which allow gardeners to grow a variety of organic plants and produce, Allison Mihalich, the senior program director in the Office of Sustainability said.

To decide the future operation plans for the student section of the garden, the Office of Sustainability will hold a “Student Garden Kick-Off” meeting Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the McNeill Room in LaFortune Student Center.

The Notre Dame community and student garden was initially established in 2010 at White Field and was relocated to Ivy Road in 2017 to allow for more expansion and to create a more secure and convenient location for gardeners.

Sophomore Daphne Saloomey worked on a sustainability project fall semester investigating Notre Dame’s campus garden and creating a proposal to restore and revamp the garden, which included spreading awareness of the existence of the land and encouraging students to care for the garden.

“We discovered that essentially the biggest barrier to the garden is the fact that no one knows about it and because no one knows about it, there’s no one maintaining it,” Saloomey said.

Saloomey said these gardens encourage a community to come together by allowing anyone, regardless of level of experience, to attend to the plants.

“Students would be able to have fresh produce for themselves while meeting people who have the same interests and values as them, whether that be sustainability or gardening or just being one with nature,” she said.

While the Office of Sustainability wants students to have access to the fresh, free produce, Mihalich said it also plans to have a share shelf for produce to be exchanged between community and student gardeners. In addition, she said it is planning food rescue runs to homeless shelters to donate leftover produce.

“The garden is important to Notre Dame because it promotes a connectedness to food, and it provides a space for people to learn,” Mihalich said.

Sophomore Daniel Rottenborn, an intern in the Office of Sustainability, said the garden even contains a honey bee colony a Notre Dame community member installed over the summer.

“I think that’s just one example of how community engagement helps the garden go in directions it otherwise might not if it was only run by the administration or by students,” he said.

Becoming involved in the garden is free, Mihalich said, and seeds, plants, tools, gloves and an organic compost are provided to students.

She said the Office’s primary goal this year is to engage undergraduate and graduate students who will remain at Notre Dame over the summer to start planting to have produce ready for students who return in August because peak harvesting season begins in July and August and runs through October.

The student garden will also serve another purpose unrelated to planting and gardening.

“We feel at the Office of Sustainability that there is a real opportunity for students to bridge the gap between the Notre Dame bubble and the South Bend community, and this garden might be one way for them to do that,” Rottenborn said.

From creating yoga day to an open mic night, Rottenborn said the Office of Sustainability hopes to use the garden for community outreach to send a sustainability-based message to the student body.

“The garden is meant to be a common human resource,” Rottenborn said. “Everybody who wants to get involved should be able to get something positive out of it, and right now with [the meeting], we’re trying to get the word out and get the garden in the position we want it to be.”

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About Serena Zacharias

Serena is a member of the class of 2021 majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She hails from the great cheese state of Wisconsin and is a former ND News Editor for The Observer.

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