Month: March 2019


Community Service Program of the Month
UWF Housing Garden Work Day

School: University of West Florida Region: SAACURH
Person in charge: UWF Garden Club Nominator: Kaley Van Zile

Target Population: 20 Time Needed to Organize: 1 week
Number of People in Attendance: 15 Date(s) of Program: 3/23/19
Number of People Needed to Organize: 1 Cost of Program: 0
On-Campus Population: 2000 Chapter Size: 9

Origin of Program:

The first community garden at the University of West Florida (UWF) was created in summer of 2009 in partnership with Pensacola's Manna Food Bank. Since then, students have been the driving force in keeping the community garden maintained by operating the irrigation system, crop production and harvest, and composting food waste from campus dining to aid in fertilization. In spring of 2014, the garden was relocated to the current location which was previously a dump site for debris from hurricane Ivan.

In the past 5 years, the UWF Garden Club was founded in which students from across campus could connect with campus faculty from programs including environmental science, English, and the Kugelman Honors Program. These involved community members organize work days that collaborate with other student organizations to expand the breadth of the service learning the community garden has to offer. For the second month this semester, the Department Housing and Residence Life has partnered with the Garden Club to support these workdays, getting both RHA and NRHH membership involved in community service initiatives. As our NRHH chapter grows, our organization intends to grow our partnership with the Garden Club to engaging in meaningful community service experiences within our campus.

Word Count: 200

Please give a short description of the program:

In the first week of February, representatives from NRHH reached out to the president of the garden club to organize a housing-themed garden workday. After a successful February workday, we were asked back for the month of March to assist with some exciting projects to prepare for the UWF Community Garden's opening ceremony in April.

As the Housing and Residence Life Department has previously supported the UWF Community Garden, the garden club was happy to offer dates that they would be hosting workdays that may be convenient for on-campus students to attend. The word was spread through RHA and NRHH general body meetings that the workday would be occurring, encouraging our membership to come support and emphasizing that any hours spent in the garden can be logged as service/volunteer hours.

Residents arrived to the community garden at 8:00am on Saturday, March 23rd. Some volunteers helped pull weeds from the vegetable beds or were asked to scout the garden to pick up trash, others helped build new mesh roofs to prevent the deer from eating the crops, and some even went to the greenhouse helping plant seedlings. Our housing team focused on the development of the new grape trellis, assisting with unfurling grape vines to place them on the lines to ensure that the grapes would have adequate room to grow. All of the volunteers were able to connect to other students that they hadn't met before in a way that gave back to their campus and Pensacola community.

Garden faculty advisers Gregory Tomso and Chasidy Hobbs talked to first time gardeners about the connections the garden has made in the community, especially through food banks such as Manna Food Pantry as well as the Families First Network. Tomso then discussed how they have been preparing for the community garden's grand opening that will take place in April and sharing some of the recent newly completed projects including the installation of the ADA compliant pavers and overhangs.

Those who attended the garden workday left feeling more connected to the UWF campus, each other, and the community. These service events provide a space for students to connect with each other away from academics and in a way that benefits something beyond themselves. At the end of the workday, the volunteers were encouraged to take some vegetables that were ready to be harvested and share the wealth of produce that the garden provides.

Word Count: 400

Goals of the program:

The goal of the housing garden work day(s) is to get students involved in service in a way that does not require them to find transportation off campus but still makes an impact on the larger Pensacola community. Most Saturdays are a day that students sleep in after a long school week, sometimes spending the afternoon/evening with family or friends and maybe even devoting time to catching up on homework. The goal of the garden days is to get our residents out of their rooms and experience how easy service can be.

Students were provided information on the different vegetables and pollinator plants as well as what impact a couple hours assisting in maintaining the garden has on those who have food insecurities. Also, the students who attended were able to engage with various faculty members and UWF staff outside of the classroom and collaborate in community service experiences.

Word Count: 149

Positive and lasting effects of the program:

Residents who attended the service event left feeling confident that they had made a positive impact on the community by ensuring the success of the community garden. Many of them asked about the regular schedule of garden workdays so that they could more regularly attend on work days that are not necessarily affiliated with NRHH. This event connected student to the Pensacola community and opened their eyes to the small acts that they can do that leave a much larger impact. The time spent in the garden made sure that the crops can grow healthily and free from foraging deer eating them so that the bulk of the produce can be donated to local food pantries.

Word Count: 116

Short evaluation of the program:

With the event occurring on a Saturday, some residents who expressed interest in the garden work day were unable to attend due to other off- campus or family obligations. We have given this feedback to the UWF Garden Club and we are looking into scheduling work days on weekdays or other days in which the university is not scheduled to be in session, which we would hope would increase attendance. Also, the students who attended were able to engage with various faculty members and UWF staff outside of the classroom and collaborate in community service experiences.

Overall those who attended had a great time and felt accomplished in the tasks they preformed to help improve and upkeep the community garden. Both sides of the partnership benefited in that the UWF Garden Club and NRHH members gained an appreciation for the partnership between the two and encourages further collaboration in the future.

Most of the work that was done was to help prepare for the Community Garden's Grand Opening.

Word Count: 167

How could this program be adapted to other campuses?

Any campus with a spot of unclaimed land of any size could potentially create a community garden. As long as their are residents with a passion for sustainable gardening and/or giving back to their campus and surrounding community, the sky's the limit as far as community gardens are concerned. The garden club of UWF transformed a dump site into a flourishing paradise, all it takes is a little dedication and being unafraid to get your hands dirty.

What makes this experience unique is that our housing student organizations RHA and NRHH have found a community service experience that is directly connected to better the UWF campus community, and this idea of creating partnerships with other on-campus organizations can be implemented in most campus structures, no matter the campus size.

Word Count: 130

Date of entry into database: 2019-03-26 23:08:30

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