Community garden promotes sustainability and health


Seedlings began to sprout in the UTSA Community Garden. Tristan Ipock, The Paisano

Danielle Throneberry

In virtue of the determination and diligence of several UTSA students and faculty and staff, the grand opening of the UTSA Community Garden took place on March 4 at 11:30 a.m. Student group applications for plots were accepted up until March 1.

The UTSA Community Garden has a story that dates back to 2013, when two students devised the first formal “Green Fund” proposition for a university community garden.

According to Lindsay Ratcliffe, advisor to the Green Society and one of nine members on the garden’s steering committee, after a few modifications and revision from two prominent staff members, the Green Society and the Department of Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) declaring their collective dedication to the project.

Ratcliffe said the steering committee submitted the new and improved proposal to the Green Fund Committee in February 2016 and that it was approved and signed off on just a month later. According to Ratcliffe, the project truly began to advance when UTSA’s Director of Sustainability, Keith Muhlestein, agreed to take on the responsibility for managing the garden funds and finalizing negotiations with GCA Services, the contractor in charge of building the garden in Fall 2016.

Additionally, the support of AVP of Facilities, Dave Riker, was of notable importance. Leah Wisner, president of the student organization 9 for 17—an organization for nutrition/dietics/health majors—and a member of the garden steering committee believes the UTSA community can learn and grow from the garden.

“The combination of nutrition and agriculture gives our members the chance to learn about food systems while enhancing the well-being of college students,” Wisner said. “We’ve collaborated with other organizations and local farmers to make sure the garden reaps a beautiful harvest and are so excited for our future farmers market!”

Rafaela Infante, member of both the Dietetic and Nutrition Student Association (DANSA) and the garden steering committee, expressed on behalf of DANSA, “Taking responsibility in planning this garden, one of our future goals is to not only encourage students to come together and pick up a new hobby, but this garden will also be a source of produce for students battling food insecurity on campus. One of our future goals is to either donate produce or create an opportunity of selling it at a UTSA farmers market.”

Among student groups who have applied for plots are 9 for 17, Black Lives Matter, Green Society and Top Scholars.

Ratcliffe said, “Their motivations are diverse: to promote environmental sustainability, to take charge of their personal health, to ensure food access and equity for underserved populations—but their common passion brings them together.”

The garden is located on the southwest corner of UTSA’s main campus near Brackenridge Ave. Lot 5.