You may have joined in on beach cleanups, recycling, and other green initiatives—but did you know that growing a garden is a fun, effective way to promote sustainability on your campus? From fighting hunger to connecting with nature, here are some benefits of growing your own campus garden, as well as some gardening tips and tricks for beginners to hone your green thumb.
Find a Space to Grow Your Garden
If you’re wondering where to start with how to grow your garden, the first thing to decide is where you’ll be planting it. Your garden will need a suitable location for crops to thrive, and a spot with plenty of sunlight is a must. Work with your school to find a perfect spot on or nearby campus to allocate to the garden. And if there are not enough green spaces on campus to convert into a garden, bear in mind you can also plant a container garden instead. Start small, until you have enough resources and volunteers to expand.
Gather Crops and Supplies
Create a list of starter items—such as seeds, tools, gloves, and other supplies—as well as the cost of each item. This helps you stay organized, prepared, and on budget. Gardening tip: Choose fruits, vegetables, and flowers you’re excited about growing, as it will bring you much more satisfaction in the long run. Also, keep in mind the planting calendar as you’ll need to plant different crops at different times. Squash, corn, tomatoes, and eggplant for example grow best in warmer climates, while asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, and onion can thrive in colder weather. Aim for a diverse, versatile garden and research what plants work well together too.
There’s strength in numbers, especially when it comes to planting crops from the ground up. You’ll likely need help from other students, faculty members, or even members of the surrounding community. Chances are, your campus may already have a sustainability club that could help get this project up and running.
Once you’ve gathered volunteers for your project, you’ll likely need financial support to obtain materials for the garden. Your school may be able to provide some funds to support the garden, but starting a fundraiser can be another fun, effective way to help grow your resources. Some fundraising ideas including having a bake sale with flower-shaped cookies and other garden-themed goodies, or even a DIY mini plant sale.
Plant Your Garden
Once you have the space, funds, materials, and volunteers, you can start planting your garden. Throw all your supplies in the roomy Restore Tote, and you’re ready for a day in the garden. For a smaller, hands-free bag while you’re busy at work, the Restore Waistpack is always by your side.
Designate specific days and times for yourself and your volunteers to work in the garden and keep the crops healthy and thriving. Another gardening tip is to keep an eye out for drooping leaves—that’s a safe bet that they’re thirsty for water. It’s important not to overwater your plants, either, as roots need oxygen just like us. Keep an eye on weather and watch out for pests too.
Benefits of Growing a Garden on Campus
By growing fruits and veggies from a local source, energy and resources that would typically be used for packaging and transporting food is reduced. Keep your garden eco-friendly by growing organic produce, pulling weeds by hand rather than using chemicals, and watering plants only when necessary.
Fights Food Insecurity
Not only can you harvest fresh produce for your campus dining hall, but also for the surrounding community. Once your garden is really up and running and producing good yields of crops, donate them to local communities and food banks to help battle hunger and food insecurity, and to assist members of your community who don’t have access to adequate food supplies. You could even create your own fruit and vegetable food bank too.
Volunteering at a campus garden teaches students about sustainability, agriculture, teamwork, and wellness. Bringing a lecture outside the classroom and into the garden for a hands-on lesson is an engaging and rewarding learning experience. If you don’t have much experience within the soil, no need to worry—campus gardens are safe, non-judgmental zones to hone your gardening skills. Throw on your lightweight Eco Mesh Pack and turn nature into your classroom.
Not only will you cultivate a connection with the Earth, but gardening is also a great way to meet likeminded students and expand your campus circle. After all, working together towards the same goal creates bonds like no other. While water and sunlight are essential, a garden requires a major secret ingredient—teamwork—in order to truly thrive.
While it does require bushels of planning and dedication, growing a campus garden is a unique opportunity to use your green thumb for good. Remember to have fun and go easy on yourself if you come across any gardening hiccups, such as withering plants. As with most activities, there’s a learning curve to gardening. It’s not supposed to be a stressful endeavor, but rather a gratifying one for you and your community.