Community garden flourishes

A block down from our bustling campus resides a small student-run garden that has, in some sense, grown out of the ground (pun intended). Founded in 2011 by John Ziker and the Sustainability Club, the Boise State Community Garden has grown into a haven of beautiful agriculture and student opportunity.

“Currently we have carrots, cilantro, lettuce and spinach that survived the winter, but we started a bunch of stuff last time… artichokes, peas, beans, radishes,” said Erin Murray, a graduate student who manages the garden. “In the summer time we plant zucchini, cucumber and tomato. We also have raspberries and blackberries.”

Currently Murray and Kathryn Demps, professor of anthropology and the advisor for the garden, are in the planning stages of drafting a deal with the Boise State dining halls. With luck, The Sustainability Club will be able to sell excess produce to these student dining facilities in order to make extra money for the garden.

“At the moment we take home whatever food is grown and then we also leave some out on the street if there is extra,” Erin said while signaling to the street in front of the garden where a row of cars are parked. “Currently it is only people who are working in the garden who take home produce, which are all students, but we’d like to be able to sell it to get some money to expand.”

Within the last few weeks volunteers have been building eight raised beds in order to expand the area that can be gardened.

“Over the next year we’re trying to get these beds set up and get the soil in them healthy so we are able to plant with more area,” Demps said.

Before Boise State bought the land and donated it to the garden, there was a house positioned over the front part of the plot. Soil in this area is contaminated from left over chemicals and is unsafe for growing.

“We will be filling these with new varieties of vegetables and berries for the summer.  This allows us to grow more types of veggies and experiment with different varieties.” Demps said.

In the back corner of the garden, left over organic material is piled up making the start of a promising compost pile. There is also talk of building a greenhouse out of found and reused materials.

There are no chemical fertilizers used in the planting process, and Demps prefers to use heirloom seeds.

“We take what we can get and many students will bring extra seeds they have or we will use what people have donated.  We shouldn’t just throw those away,” Demps said.

Participating in the garden is a great opportunity for students who have an interest in gardening but don’t have the time or resources.  “Students can learn how to plant a seed, what a weed looks like, how often to water something and when the growing season is.  Once you learn these basic tasks, you can grow almost anything.” says Demps.

Students who are interested in getting involved can get in contact through the garden’s Facebook page BSU Sustainable Space and Community Garden, or attend the potluck at the garden on April 22. The garden is located at 1415 Juanita St.

About the author  ⁄ patriciabowen