Garden helps students learn about sustainability

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Found at the TCU Wesley Foundation, the university Community Garden started in August and is made up of plants and recyclable materials. Photo by Taylor Prater. Sustainability professor Keith Whitworth's class will begin to utilize recyclable materials such as plastic water bottles in order to help maintain the university's community garden, which began in August 2011. Courtesy of Keith Whitworth.

In order to create a greener campus, students from Keith Whitworth’s sustainability class will use empty bottles and other recyclable material to maintain the university’s community garden.

Sustainability is important because it impacts our future, Whitworth, instructor of sociology and anthropology, said.

“We believe it is important for the students to have some kind of firsthand experience involved with sustainability,” he said. “We want them to have a lab, and [the garden] is a perfect lab the students can come to during class.”

The community garden, located on the front lawn of the Wesley Foundation Building, has been maintained by volunteers from the Wesley Foundation. The garden is made out of recyclable material and is a great opportunity for the sustainability program to partner with the Wesley Foundation, Whitworth said.

Sophomore psychology major Yvonne Igodan said she took Whitworth’s sustainability class so she could find ways to help further the university’s sustainability initiatives.
Since she began working in the garden, her views on sustainability have changed, Igodan said.

“Seeing how we can use wine bottles and all those Corona bottles for something better for the community, and the rainwater runoff to help with the onions and potatoes, it’s awesome,” she said.

Taking Whitworth’s sustainability class and working in the garden, also, has helped students, such as sophomore strategic communication major Kate Fosha, change some living habits.

“Since starting this class I’ve started not to use water bottles as much because I realize how bad they are for the environment,” Fosha said.

Igodan said working in the garden has helped broaden her horizons, and she said she has begun to spread the word about sustainability.

Whitworth said the process to “green” the university has been done in incremental steps, but progress is being made to help make the university more sustainable.

According to the TCU Sustainability Program website, during the last five years, the university built many environmentally-friendly buildings on campus such as Scharbauer Hall and the Brown-Lupton University Union. Also, the Physical Plant has decided to use compact, electric vehicles that help with emissions.

Despite these initiatives, Igodan said she does not think the university’s efforts to go “green” are good enough.

“I feel like if we change our efforts, we can go big time,” she said. “We have the people. I wish we could come together as a community and help better our campus.”

Whitworth said his sustainability class has been working on a rain harvesting system, and plans to install the system in the community garden next month. The system will reduce the need for hand watering and will help make the garden more sustainable.

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