Students plant the roots for sustainable future

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The IU South Bend Community Garden is located at River Crossing Student Housing. PHOTO/ROBYN HAWLEY
The IU South Bend Community Garden is located at River Crossing Student Housing.

Staff Writer

Leaving behind a useful planet for the future begins with planting the roots and starting small. This is exactly what a group of IU South Bend sustainability students are trying to accomplish.

The sizeable IUSB Community Garden is sponsored by the Unity Gardens of South Bend and is a pick-for-free garden available to any student or community member, according to the self-proclaimed “goddesses of the garden,” junior Robyn Hawley and graduate student Emily Mann.

Both Hawley and Mann are dedicated to the university’s sustainability program who manage the garden. They said this should be considered a small stepping stone toward a sustainable future.

“Doing something small every day can make a great change,” said Hawley.

The five-year-old garden, located near student housing, is capable of growing various vegetables and herbs but needs volunteers to plant the first seeds of the season. Mann said the group is looking for people to help keep the plants growing.

To her, it’s the best job around. “I’m a bit biased, but gardening, farming is the best work you can do,” she said.

The managers said working in the garden is one of the easiest ways to get started in gardening.

If volunteering doesn’t sound like a fit, the garden offers events such as mulching in the spring and ‘Adopt-a-Box’ where users can claim a box to grow their own plants in. These events can be attended as an individual, a group, or a campus club. Mann said they are also working on teaming up with the Unity Garden of South Bend to offer more garden workshops. “We’re talking with them right now, seeing what we can do,” she said.

Before the seeds are planted, the vegetables need to be chosen. There is a survey on the group’s Facebook page, “IU South Bend Community Garden,” for students to help determine what will be planted in the spring. The survey closes in approximately two weeks.

Mann said the goal is to begin planting by the end of March, but the group will be able to get a head-start this year. A room within the Center for a Sustainable Future is being transformed into a new grow room. This will allow seeds to sprout indoors before they are planted in the garden.

Not only does the garden offer fresh, locally grown foods, volunteer opportunities and events, it also prompts a conversation about living more sustainably. Hawley said the goal of the garden is to have an impact on the community, promoting an action that is better for the body and better for the planet.

By thinking about the consequences of human actions on the environment, it makes it easier to think and act more eco-responsible. Mann said it’s what people should be doing. “Living sustainably is the most responsible thing we can do right now,” she said.

The managers said they hope to begin harvesting weekly by the end of April and hope others will volunteer to join them in making this planet something useful to leave behind.

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