2009/04/22:Royal Purple News: Granting sustainability: Instructor wins grant to start project garden - Peace, Education, and Activism through Creative Engagement

Granting sustainability: Instructor wins grant to start project garden
Alyssa Skiba
Royal Purple News
Issue date: 4/22/09 Section: Lifestyle

The dreams and visions powered by the strong determination of an avid gardener were enough to secure a grant that will bring sustainability to the UW-Whitewater campus and community.

Lecturer Sharon Roy received a generous strategic initiatives grant allowing for the creation of a sustainability garden near the new college of business building, Hyland Hall.

Roy came up with the idea to produce a sustainability garden at UW-Whitewater in November when she attended a seminar in Madison about agriculture and sustainability.

"It's an opportunity for students to be immersed in sustainability," Roy said. "The garden will be a working tool for the university."

In order to receive the grant, the proposed project had to be visible, sustainable and align with the strategic goals of the college.

Because UW-Whitewater is not an agriculturally focused school and the issue of sustainability continues to rise in importance, Roy said the garden would put the college one step ahead of the pack.

"Much of the research on sustainability will come from our universities," Roy said. "I want UW-Whitewater to get a piece of that pie."

The garden will be located on the plot of grass between Hyland and Upham Halls.

"By having a living, breathing source of energy at the nucleus of the campus, this will reinforce the UW system's commitment to green initiatives," Roy said.

The design of the garden will focus on a circular theme with water features, fencing, arbors and solar lights. It will also feature some international aspects along the walking path of the garden. There will be plants and artwork from different parts of the world as well as fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Learning Communities that focus on a certain passion will have access to the garden. It will also introduce incoming freshman to the idea of sustainability on campus.

The garden will rely on student organizations and ownership, as well as corporations for marketing. Benches, tables and patios will be available to be engraved with the name of sponsors.

Some student organizations at UW-Whitewater are already becoming involved in the project. Executive members from Whitewater Student Government, Students Allied for a Green Earth, and PEACE attended the discussion of the garden.

"This garden is so important to a person's future livelihood and mental health," PEACE president Karen Drydyk said. "It will allow students to understand food sovereignty and give them a chance to take that giant step outside."

SAGE president Tony Dobner said the project suits the goals of his organization. SAGE focuses on ecological sustainability, participatory democracy, social awareness and cultural diversity.

"Every guiding principle of our organization is addressed," Dobner said.

Students with disabilities will have very few problems accessing the garden. There are plans for a scented-brail garden as well as raised beds allowing students in wheelchairs to work in the garden.

Roy praised the benefits the garden will provide for the hectic, stressful lives of some college students by providing an area to relax and enjoy.

Roy recently applied for the Gear Up grant that will allow garden experts to come to the campus and teach classes on issues ranging from composting, rain gardening and Victory Gardens.

The future of the garden will rely upon dedication from the UW-Whitewater campus and community.

The current presidents of WSG, SAGE and PEACE are prepared to ensure their commitment to the garden once they leave the UW-Whitewater.

"These are the projects our organization looks for," Dobner said. "Participation in the garden is implicit to our constitution."

Roy said she thinks the garden will bring beauty to the campus.

"It will be a welcome relief to students after seeing so much cement and cranes and construction," Roy said.