A new garden on the Polytechnic campus will provide students with fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.
The Garden Commons features a variety of new aspects — including an indoor resource center to conduct lessons and harvest food. There are also compost bins, an event space for outdoor activities, a citrus orchard with six types of citrus fruits and a garden featuring 18 different plants.
The crops growing on raised planting beds range from vegetables like broccoli and spinach to flowers.
“This garden came about from the success of our old garden out at North Desert Village which we had for six years,” said Susan Norton, program manager with the University Sustainability Practices. “We realized we had outgrown the space and really needed more infrastructure to develop the program.”
The garden's purpose is to help eliminate food insecurity for the local students and provide them fresh produce to consume.
“We sell the produce we harvested that day to students, staff and faculty,” Norton said. “A lot of students tend to not have cash and we are happy to even give students produce, it’s more about getting fresh organic produce into the hands of students.”
The original garden was used to grow produce as well as teach gardening class, but it was found to be too small for continued growth and not ideal for community use.
The new garden provides a variety of expanded opportunities for students on the Polytechnic campus. For example, students can purchase fresh produce and flowers from the farm stand every Thursday when the crops are in season.
“It's a good idea, if you give people the opportunity to eat healthy it puts it more on them,” sophomore sports business major Jameer Johnson said. “With the ability to access it if students want to eat healthier you have the opportunity to do so.”
Additionally, students can take a course on gardening where they work with Norton on the garden and learn the basics on how to take care of it. The space is also being used as a place for community events.
To help take care of the garden, Norton has two program assistants who work with her for about 15 hours a week, one of which took the class before becoming an assistant.
“I knew general gardening coming in,” sophomore sustainability major Madelynne Greathouse said. “I learned a lot over the class … Working here I have learned so much and it's been a lot of fun.”
Going forward, Norton hopes to expand the garden if they can receive more funding. The hope is to add another garden to grow more produce, as well as a meditation space and grand entrance.
“I really do feel it’s a nice attribute to the campus that the whole community can benefit from,” Norton said.
Wyatt Myskow is the project manager at The State Press, where he oversees enterprise stories for the publication. He also works at The Arizona Republic, where he covers the cities of Peoria and Surprise.