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Edible Campus initiative plans for more growth in spring

Edible Campus, with one site in front of Davis Library, works to help students know where their food is coming from.

Edible Campus, with one site in front of Davis Library, works to help students know where their food is coming from.

Edible Campus is a campus initiative that creates landscapes with edible plants around UNC-Chapel Hill. Laura Mindlin, the program’s coordinator, said a major goal for the spring is to increase student leadership in the initiative.

“Since there’s so much that Edible Campus needs now and has the potential for, we’re going to really draw on what different students are excited about and then those can be the projects that they can take on,” Mindlin said.

Nine satellite gardens, which are gardens with edible plants that students can take from, currently exist around campus.

“Our vision for the satellite beds is just to get people engaged in the food system, seeing food grow and getting excited about different food efforts going on around campus,” Mindlin said.

A demonstration garden will be built behind Davis Library by mid-March. Tony Mayer, co-founder and horticulture advisor for Edible Campus, said the garden will be a shared public space for student organizations involved in food efforts.

“There are so many groups that are organized around food or ecology, student-led activist groups,” Mayer said. “And we’re hoping that it will be sort of the home where those groups can come together and hold events, demonstrations and workshops.”

Mindlin said a student intern was hired to maintain the satellite gardens and another intern will soon be hired to maintain the demonstration garden. She said many student volunteers for weekly garden maintenance will come from three collaborating APPLES courses.

Education about Edible Campus has been an obstacle, Mindlin said, so she plans on creating more garden signs and events to increase student engagement, like a scavenger hunt around the satellite gardens. Mindlin said she hopes to create themed satellite beds, like one with herbs for tea.

Sophomore Natalie Ferguson said her friend has used the kale from the satellite gardens, but she has not taken any of the plants yet. She said she thinks many people don’t know about the program and that Edible Campus should increase social media use.

Junior Caroline Morgan said she has never used the edible plants from the gardens, but plans to in the future.

“One of my favorite parts of coming to college was learning to cook, but when you don’t necessarily have a ton of money for groceries, it’s hard to get fresh ingredients,” Morgan said. “So, I mean, I think it’s a great idea.”

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