Sill Garden will undergo makeover

622sillplan By Erika Longino, Sustainability Resource Center

The University of Utah’s first organic edible garden was established in 1996 at the Sill Center. We affectionately call the garden “The Mothership,” “The Pilot,” or “The Seedpod” because it was this piece of land that spawned the whole Edible Campus Gardens program.

Over the course of the past year, the Sill Center—and by default the Sill Garden—have undergone some major construction. Now, as the dust settles, the Sill Center emerges an improved building. The architecture is defined as “mid-century modern” and incorporates elements, such as horizontal lines, large windows, and simple color palettes. With its update, the building now has modern systems, more efficient windows (the previous windows were drafty and metal framed!), and a small addition on the north side.

Volunteers work at the Sill Garden.

Volunteers work at the Sill Garden.

In honor of the Sill Center’s makeover, we’ll be doing one of our own. With the help of the planning and landscaping departments in Facilities Management, we’re working toward making the Sill Garden the demonstration space for how gardens can be beautiful, edible, and replicable. We’ll be planting lower-input crops in simple patterns to mimic the modernist design of the building. We will continue to intensively cultivate a variety of biodiverse crops and create volunteer opportunities at this site. We will interplant kale, chard, basil, bok choy, edible flowers, and scallions. The faculty and staff at the Sill express their support and excitement about the gardens regularly, both verbally and by sending messages to us, and we hope our planned changes will excite them and passersby.

Growing vertically! To maximize production, vertical gardening will be used at Pioneer Garden.

Growing vertically! To maximize production, vertical gardening will be used at Pioneer Garden.

The Pioneer Garden near Pioneer Memorial Theater will continue to be our space for experimentation and higher production. The main goal of the Edible Campus Gardens is to be a hub for building capacity and growing community, and we strive to accomplish that every day.

Other news and updates

  • The Edible Campus Gardens were featured in the Salt Lake Tribune! With the support of the Sustainability Office, a student group has been working with University Dining to add more “real food” at the University to meet the U’s commitment to include 20 percent real food by 2020.
  • We have been installing drip irrigation in newly-established beds at the Pioneer Garden. Come learn about how it’s done!
  • Our storage basement flooded last winter, and we just got some sweet replacement shelving. We’ll be going through all our garden tools and supplies this week and restocking our cool (as in not 100 degrees) storage basement.
  • Last Tuesday, the gardens were alive with 6-9th graders planting raspberries, mulching, and weeding! Thanks Club U for a great partnership! Do you want to get your hands in the dirt here on campus? Sign up for our weekly updates, which include volunteer opportunities.

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



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