March into the Edible Campus Gardens this spring

Panoramic view of the garden over the winter with covered beds.

Panoramic view of the garden over the winter with covered beds.

By Erika Longino, Sustainability Resource Center

Despite the re-appearance of wintery weather this week, the uncharacteristically temperate February brought sunshine and warmth to plants across the valley. Flowers are poking their bright heads out of the ground and the garden soils will soon be prime for planting. We, the gardeners from the Edible Campus Gardens, are preparing to come out of the greenhouse and office and wrangle worms, sprout and nurture seedlings for our summer crops, and continue working to improve our soil.

Soil in the new keyhole beds at Pioneer Garden is ready for cover crop.

Soil in the new keyhole beds at Pioneer Garden is ready for cover crop.

Over the course of the winter, while the outdoor gardens have been dormant, we spread knowledge and skills for organic gardening through workshops. My fellow garden steward Emma Wilson and I engaged local experts to share their insights on gardening and everything related to it. Mike Lynch, community education program director at Wasatch Community Gardens and former U of U garden steward himself, hosted several workshops on soil building (the most important part of a successful garden!) and composting. With help from Biocentric Bros, we also demonstrated indoor growing techniques with edible gourmet mushroom production and microgreens, which we sprouted in our space at the Biology Department greenhouse. The Department of Modern Dance worked with us to put together a discussion on movement arts and urban gardens. And most deliciously, we held culinary workshops on preserving and utilizing the garden produce we had overwintered under row covers.

Overwintered sorrel and winter rye cover crop.

Overwintered sorrel and winter rye cover crop.

As we progress into spring, we are eager for more hands in the garden, more minds to apply gardening methods, and more stomachs to fill with nourishing organic food. We will continue to host workshops this spring, including: tool maintenance, indoor plant starting, and beekeeping. We are also developing our own gardener training program for self-motivated individuals interested in a more comprehensive gardening education based at our gardens and get more involved at the gardens. We’ll be piloting the program this spring and summer, and hope to launch the full program in the fall. Drop-in volunteers and community-engaged learning students will always be welcome, too. For more information about volunteering, e-mail the Edible Campus Gardens at uofucampusgardens@gmail.com or sign up for our weekly updates.

Erika Longino is a garden steward with the Sustainability Resource Center’s Edible Campus Gardens.

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