ATHENS, Ga. — There is a lot more growing at UGArden — the University of Georgia’s student-run community farm — than just vegetables. Student involvement, community outreach and adoption of sustainable practices are all products of the work of students and staff at the garden.
In May 2020, the garden will celebrate 10 years of excellence, all thanks to the continuous commitment from students, faculty, staff and donors. UGArden farm manager JoHannah Biang said the garden effectively integrates learning opportunities for students into the daily work they do on the farm, an experience they would not have without support from donors and the community.
“Having an experience with food is a really important perspective for everyone to have. Without that support, we could not let just anyone come work here,” Biang said.
Financial gifts have helped improve infrastructure and pay student interns, for example, but eager volunteers have created a sense of community for students, said Biang. “It makes them feel like they are not only a part of UGA, but a part of Athens as well.”
Located roadside on S. Milledge Avenue, UGArden is deeply rooted in giving back to the community in a way that is both educational for local elementary and middle school students and sustainable for the Earth, said student assistant farm manager Victoria Luna, a fourth-year horticulture student.
“The staff here does not forget about the UGArden’s focus — to educate,” said Luna. “Even if it takes extra time, knowledgeable people who work here take the time to show students how to get things done around the farm. What makes it all so special is that the work here is done in a sustainable, affectionate way, and then the crops go right back into the community.”
For more information on how to support UGArden’s future growth, visit ugarden.uga.edu.
(This story was produced for the CAES magazine Southscapes. For more stories from the fall 2019 issue of Southscapes, visit southscapes.caes.uga.edu.)
–Merritt Melancon, University of Georgia