Students want to cultivate green thumbs at TRU, but it’s been tried before
The six students hoping for a community garden on campus have reached their $1,000 fundraising goal, but there’s still a ways to go before the project breaks ground. The garden, which would rent plots for students to grow their own produce, still needs the university’s stamp of approval.
“Right now what we’re working on is tracking down who exactly is in charge of making that decision so that we can get a better idea of who’s holding the project back,” said Emmalie Louwerse, one of the students on the project.
The garden, which began as a group class project, is largely based off a 2012 proposal by TRU Horticulture co-ordinator Kevin Scollon that had to be abandoned after funding was pulled.
Scollon said his proposal was not the first time a garden on campus has been suggested. The idea of a community garden has come up several times in the last few years, but has always been turned down.
“It’s a great idea,” he said. “We just can’t get past the continuity issue (who would manage the garden as founders graduate or during the summer), the aesthetics issue and the placement issue. Unfortunately, there’s never a good answer to any of those.”
In this latest bid, Louwerse’s group has suggested three possible locations for the garden: beside Lot N by the Residence and Conference Centre, behind Culinary Arts, or behind the veterinary building. The TRUSU Roots and Shoots Club has also agreed to manage the garden over the summer.
Beyond their goal, but not their budget
While the group has already raised $1,130 through their Indiegogo crowd-funding site since March 2, the six students say they still need donations.
“It’s really important for the campus to become involved in this and we need all the help and support we can get,” Louwerse said. “One thousand dollars was our goal, but it’s only going to cover part of the costs of what a garden would be.”
Besides breaking ground, equipment and seeds, Louwerse says most of the fundraised money would go to a security fence around the garden.
Scollon’s original proposal called for a six-foot-tall chain link fence to keep out deer and other wildlife. The fence’s $10,000 price tag included all material, contract labour and over $1,000 of financial leeway in case of unexpected costs.
Despite the obstacles, Scollon, Louwerse and TRU Sustainability’s James Gordon all say that there is demand for a community garden.
According to Scollon, the Horticulture department has seen a dramatic rise in students interested in growing their own food in the last five years.
“I think people are just getting in tune with where food comes from,” he said, adding that more and more students are looking for local, pesticide-free produce.
Over 130 people have signed to show their support for the project, Louwerse says.
The group will be accepting funds through their Indiegogo campaign until April 1.