After two years of planning and plot distribution, the UA Community Garden blossomed in its grand opening with a ceremonial ribbon cutting on Monday.
The UA’s newest garden is about 1,600 square feet, has around 46 plots, generally 3-by-10 foot in size, and is located just north of the Highland Avenue Parking Garage on Highland Avenue and Mabel Street, said Taryn Contento, the project’s co-manager and an environmental sciences junior.
There are about 40 to 60 people who own the various plots in the garden, she said, including students, club members, faculty and local community members.
The UA Green Fund, which finances projects aimed at making the campus more sustainable, funded the $25,000 garden, according to Natalie Lucas, executive program director of Students for Sustainability.
Chet Phillips, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona’s graduate assistant for sustainability, and a doctoral student in arid lands resource sciences, said the plots are divided up so that a third of them go to students, a third go to faculty and staff and a third go to members of the surrounding neighborhood.
“The idea is to bring people together,” Phillips said.
Many things can be grown in the garden, Phillips said, including tomatoes, chiles, peppers, squash, melons, basil, beans and eggplant. These kinds of things can be grown around this time of the year because of the warm weather, but in the winter, more leafy vegetables like lettuce can also be grown in the garden, he said.
Vegetables were already growing in certain plots during the garden’s opening ceremony. Dave and Cathy Perry, a local couple, were checking on their plot of tomatoes, beans, dill, carrots, peas and marigolds. Dave Perry said he thinks the community garden is a “great idea,” and likes how it is set up with group irrigation for all the plots. Solar-powered timers regulate when the plots are irrigated, he said.
Rachel Pergamit, a junior studying environmental and water resource economics, and Taylor Silva, a vocal performance freshman, attended the grand opening and represented the UA’s new Food Committee, which aims to bring vegan, vegetarian, allergy-friendly and sustainable foods to Arizona Student Unions. The committee has a plot on the garden that grows various herbs and tomatoes, Pergamit said.
The garden provides as an “excellent opportunity” to bring students, faculty and community members together and show their love for gardening, she added.