Heller Student Garden

by Sean Svette and Judith Rice-Jones
UCCS Undergraduate Nutrition Student, UCCS Graduate Applied Geography Student

Check out the garden photo journal!

The overall goal of the Student Garden is to create an opportunity for UCCS students, faculty, and neighboring community to participate in a hands-on gardening experience that incorporates aspects of sustainable agriculture. The ability for UCCS to have a Student Garden sends a powerful message not only to students and faculty, but to the rest of the Colorado Springs community. UCCS is viewed as a respected institution of higher education, and the Student Garden will complement this by providing an outlet for interested gardeners to come and further their horticultural knowledge. Also, the garden in its current location will greatly contribute to the rustic beauty of the Heller property.

This project has the ability to reach many people that can benefit from gardening. For instance, it can give students experiencing stress a way to channel their energy into something physically rewarding. It can also be an avenue for students and faculty to find a renewed sense of community; people having the chance to step outside of their homes or office spaces and participate with a group of enthusiastic gardeners is a priceless experience. The garden creates a space for people to share their stories, ideas, laughter, and frustrations. In a digital age where most of our communication takes place via emails and text messages, the garden allows people to communicate without computers. It gives people a brief moment to return to time where people depended on each other and maintained a deep respect for nature. The garden can to do all of this and continue to be a beacon of sustainable living and promote a healthier, more vivacious, and connected community.

Growing vegetables versus shipping them thousands of miles around the world is one the most common sense ways to reduce out ecological footprint. If we can shift even just a small percentage of people to growing their own food we can avoid thousands of pounds of CO2 being produced every year for the shipping and processing of foods. Given that wellness is also part of the strategic plan, teaching students to appreciate and value healthy, locally produced organic food should also lead to healthier eating habits.

The garden can be a place not only for learning, but for participation. The beauty of the garden in full bloom during the summer is a wonderful place to host meetings, picnics, and an overall place to go for peace and tranquility. Also, there have already been many good examples of the garden serving as a venue for student engagement. Every semester various instructors including Carole Huber, Nanna Meyer, Eric Steen have brought students to the garden to participate in amending soil, composting, and planting seeds. Judith Rice-Jones has also hosted events bringing in students and community groups to teach concepts on permaculture design.