Courtesy of Will Talent / The Paisano
UTSA has a multitude of eco-friendly projects to improve student life around campus, one of which involves fresh produce from the comfort of the UTSA Main Campus.The Student Government Go Green Committee, in collaboration with the Student Leadership Center, is working towards constructing a campus garden at UTSA. Merced Carbajal, a senior multi-disciplinary studies major and chair of the Go Green Committee has been instrumental in bringing gardens to campus.Carbajal believes the garden could potentially offer “the benefit of a learning experience with harvesting your own food.” The garden also, “stands as a representation of sustainable progress as an institution.”Plots of land would be available to registered student organizations and other student/faculty groups to check out and manage per harvest season. The Go Green Committee and the Student Leadership Center will manage garden food production so that “funds from the profit are able to go back into the garden to keep it self-sustaining,” Carbajal said. It is currently in the organization process.Details of how it will be constructed and how volunteers will be managed are being finalized. Carbajal hopes that UTSA will one day have a farmer’s market at which the produce could be sold.Green Spaces Alliance, a local non-profit organization, works in the community to support sustainability and conservation in overlooked urban spaces. The alliance has expressed interest in providing a garden-mentoring aid service for participating groups.According to the Go Green Committee, students have expressed enthusiasm for campus gardens and volunteer opportunities. Members of the Student Government Association (SGA) hope that the gardens will be funded in part by the Green Fund, a portion of tuition and fees specifically allocated for environmental initiatives. It will also be necessary to look to outside organizations for matching funds. Carbajal hopes this initiative will become “a highly active and productive garden that will help gauge community interest in UTSA’s progress to a more sustainable institution.”As with any public institution project, red tape has slowed the process of bringing the gardens to campus. “Getting anything done requires a lot of processing by different departments for approval and measure of feasibility,” explained Carbajal. Gaining access to adequate funding has also been difficult, as the gardens would call for various architects and contractors to construct the plots.The Go Green Committee has tentatively projected the completion of the Campus Garden project by Spring 2014.