Green Unity plans new garden on MCV campus

Originally published January 26, 2012 in The Commonwealth Times

The Green Unity club is building a new community garden on the east side of the Larrick Student Center on VCU’s MCV campus, soon to be open for students, faculty and staff this spring.

Gardeners will be able to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs on personal or shared plots. Volunteers are also needed to help grow food for donations at local food banks.

Green Unity is hoping to break ground on the garden in February. The plot itself is 20 feet wide, 200 feet long and can be divided into as many as 26 separate plots. Four of the plots will be wheelchair accessible, and at least two are designated for volunteer growing.

One of the goals for the garden will be to put people in better touch with their food and each other, said Alex Little, a Green Unity member and soon-to-be garden manager.

“A lot of people don’t know where their food comes from,” she said. “It is important to have a connection with their food, and then they have a connection with their environment as well.”

For the spring season, Green Unity will grow cold weather crops like herbs, spinach, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. They hope to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, small melons, squash and potatoes this summer.

All of the crops grown on the volunteer plots will be donated to organizations like Campus Kitchens or a local food bank, such as FeedMore, the umbrella organization that includes programs like Meals on Wheels and the Central Virginia Food Bank.

“We’re trying to increase our percentage of fresh, healthy, non-processed vegetables whenever we can,” said Kathryn Erhardt, director of strategic gifts at FeedMore. “It’s not only just community gardens; it’s local farmers and people who donate from their own gardens.”

Last year, FeedMore distributed over 19.1 million pounds of food.

Both FeedMore and Green Unity share in their initiatives to bring fresh, healthy foods to the community.

“I think this is a good thing to be doing; food banks have a hard time getting and distributing fresh foods, instead of things like cans and processed foods,” Rachel Elves, president of the MCV division of Green Unity, said.

The club plans to hold free or low-cost workshops to beginning gardeners who want to contribute to the garden.

“The great thing about community gardens is you are never on your own; there is always somebody around to help you out. It’s a gardening community,” Elves said. “You’re not just thrown out there with a trowel and some gloves.”

You can read more about Green Unity and their plan for the new community garden on their website, http://green-unity.blogspot.com/p/vcu-community-garden.html. Registration for all plots ends Feb. 2.

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