Campus garden hopes to inspire community, foster deeper connections

Valparaiso University’s Office of Sustainability has listened to the requests of the community and will be implementing a community garden in the Spring of 2020. Leading the Office of Sustainability is Coordinator Julie Whitaker who will be taking charge of this new project with the help of student Sarah Tubbs. 


“The connection between humans and their food sources have become lost in the ever globalizing world surrounding us. With the growth of organizations and universities implementing community gardens throughout the world, this connection is being regained and understood to a better degree,” Whitaker wrote in the initial proposal for the community garden. 


The community garden doesn’t only hope to inspire community within the university and offer members of the university a common place to grow their own crops, but also hopes to inspire deeper connections between faculty, students and academia. 


“The implementation of a community garden on Valparaiso University’s campus teaches social, environmental and economical responsibilities of a food system. This creates an outdoor place to gather, connect and collaborate on horticultural knowledge and practices… The community garden will be a place of reflection, beautification and education for our University,” Whitaker said. 


The community garden will serve as a bridge between students and faculty through its potential use within classrooms for testing and experimentation. The community garden will also serve as a chance for the inspiration of community within groups, the potential for service work and the beautification of the campus. 


While the community garden benefits the students, faculty and other members of Valparaiso University, the community garden also provides many benefits to the environment.


“Benefits of a community garden include increasing soil health, increasing pollinator species on campus, and reducing the use of carbon emissions,” Whitaker said. “The garden project supplies five out of the six concentrated categories at the Office of Sustainability. Learning and Service, Energy and Emissions, Campus Operations, Health and Wellness, Environmental Quality and Learning and Service.”


The community garden will be located at 551 Greenwich Street, near the Sigma Phi Epsilon house. The garden will be comprised of plots of three dimensions - 5x5, 10x10, and 20x20. These plots will be purchasable by any member of Valparaiso University upon request. 


This payment supplies plot owners with on-site water and overall maintenance of the garden, such as mulching of the paths and the potential addition of a scenic water feature. This payment does not, however, supply plot owners with seeds. Seeds, as well as overall maintenance of their individual plot, will be left to the responsibility of each plot’s owner(s). Plot owners will also want to consider the need for care of the plot over the duration of the summer. 


For those interested in purchasing a plot in the community garden, a Google Form will be sent out to the community of Valparaiso University in the upcoming weeks. This Google Form does not lock those who respond into the purchasing of a plot, but rather, serves as a way for Whitaker to gain an understanding of how many prospective plot owners there are.  

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