2 years ago
Miriam Percival
Mercury Staff
Linda Nguyen
Mercury Staff

Community Garden moved to Phase 1 with additional features

The project to extend Loop Road has begun on the spot where the Community Garden used to be.

The Community Garden is a project run by the Office of Student Volunteerism. It is located at the intersection of Drive A and Drive H at the edge of Phase One. Students tend to the garden and all food is donated to charity.

The extension of Loop Road wasn’t supposed to begin until spring 2016. However, on Nov. 11, volunteers at the garden learned it would begin at the end of the month. They received an unofficial announcement from a gardener who happened to work for Facilities Management — the university never officially contacted them.

This left the volunteers in a tricky situation. With little time to move the garden, they had no idea where it would be relocated or how they would fund it. That’s when Megan Zerez, a molecular biology junior and volunteer at the garden, put together a petition on Change.org to postpone construction until the garden was moved. The petition is only 25 signatures away from its goal of 200.

When the Dean of Students office contacted Zerez, they told her they were not aware the garden was in the way of the Loop Road construction project until they saw her petition. 

Student Government Vice President Grant Branam said the plan was always there to move the garden to a new location, but the quick escalation of construction caused confusion.

“I think students were just very upset and they thought, ‘Oh, it’s being (torn) down’,” he said. “There wasn’t an immediate alternative location. I don’t think that was planned out because it was supposed to be six months later than planned. And I think that the alternative location would have been planned by then.”

Shortly after the Dean of Students office contacted Zerez, Kim Winkler, associate dean of student engagement initiatives, and Amanda Smith, interim associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, began working with her and other volunteers at the Community Garden to resolve the situation.

As of Nov. 20, the garden’s new location will be located on a parking median in Phase One. There have also been several other improvements, such as three new plant beds, freeze-proof plumbing and more hose connections.

While Zerez doesn’t plan to take her petition down until all promises regarding the deadlines are met, she said is pleased with the quick response from the university and the help from Facilities Management to move the garden.  She also hopes the university will improve their communication with students about future construction projects.

“I think this is an issue with a much broader scope,” she said. “Construction projects, because they often disrupt day-to-day activities, access and resources, need to be announced publicly much further in advance, by at least a month.”