UW-Whitewater Campus Garden blooms

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Samantha Butzen, Journalist

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s campus garden is in full swing for the harvest season between the University Bookstore and Ambrose Health Center on West Starin Road.
The garden was able to take transformative steps this year. Working with the Warhawk Food Pantry and the Campus Food Pantry, the garden sold 10 community supported agriculture shares to become more self-sustaining. Vegetables, flowers, and herbs grown in the shares are then donated to the pantries for community members to take as much as they can use.
Being a student-run garden, enthusiasts are able to learn sustainability and business lessons that can be used in future endeavors. Vegetables grown in the garden include tomatoes, cucumbers, beet greens, beans and more.
“The most rewarding part about working in the garden this summer was seeing all of the plants get so big because I had planted all of them from seed – with some help of course. I also cherish all the knowledge I learned about gardening. Being able to grow your own fruits and vegetables is a skill everybody should know something about,” said student garden manager Cameron Scholze.
Though the garden produced plenty of vegetables and herbs for the community, it was not always easy getting there. Even in the outdoors COVID-19 played an interesting role in the normal dynamic of the garden. With the students being gone, there were less people around to scare Whitewater’s local critters away. Deer, rabbits and groundhogs would strike when no one was around, and especially on weekends. They would sneak into the garden, and eat the greens the students grew. Less people also meant less help.
T “Due to COVID we haven’t been able to have as many volunteers to help out at the garden as in usual years, and Cam has done a wonderful job of keeping the gardening going even without the several hours of volunteering we typically have to help us. We currently have garden volunteer and prairie seed collecting volunteer programs, which can be a fun activity to get outside and do something on campus,” said student grounds intern Emily Peters.
Even in a pandemic situation, the Whitewater community was still able to come together, and care for each other. The UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office problem-solved and prevailed in different ways. A self-sustaining community takes only what is needed. In a time of adversity they were able to transform with hopes of continuing to meet current needs.
“The food pantry donation program we did from 2013-2019 had a significant impact, with nearly 10,000 pounds of produce grown and donated, and another 12,350 pounds collected from City Market vendors by our interns and volunteers for donation,” said Sustainability Director Wesley Enterline. “Next year we look to take a step back from intensive production to focus on building the orchard to be more productive and simplify our overall crop selection to make maintenance a little easier.”
The campus garden has shown consistent growth and plans to continue. Produce from the gardern can be found at the Warhawk Food Pantry located in Drumlin Dining Hall Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Those interested in volunteering for prairie seed collecting or garden help can contact the sustainability office at [email protected]

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