ResLife Sustainability Committee proposes community garden in Quad

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The Residence Life Sustainability Committee (RLSC), a group composed of about 16 Resident Assistants, is working on a series of proposals to present to the University Sustainability Council on April 25.

A community garden is one of the green initiatives that the committee is working to design and proposing to be built in front of Evans Hall in the Residence Quad.

The project is meant to mark the beginning of various green renovations throughout the Residence Quad area that will eventually become the planned home of the Sustainability Living Learning Community (SLLC).

“The Reslife Sustainability Committee strives to set the vision and direction of sustainable living in Florida Tech residence halls,” said Zachary Eichholz, the committee’s president.  

“We want to educate residents on sustainability-based topics ranging from human-induced climate change to urban agriculture,” Eichholz said.

In order to do this, the group is designing the school’s first sustainability-based living-learning community, or SLLC, pronounced ‘slick.’

“The community garden is just one aspect of this larger project,” Eichholz explained.

Currently, Evans Hall in the Quad is the focus of this transformation.

According to the committee, the garden will serve as a platform for sustainable education, provide a conversation highlight for campus tours, allow residents the chance to become self-sufficient in food cultivation skills, and become the catalyst for larger sustainability based movements around campus.

The proposed area of construction in front of Evans Hall measures 56 feet by 39 feet. The plan is to build 33 raised beds, complete with fencing, irrigation, benches, and storage areas, where students can go to be immersed in an environment they have a hand in creating and maintaining.

“The concept is neat, but that took lots of drafts, explained Residence Life Coordinator Jacqueline Hetherington, who formed The Reslife Sustainability Committee in 2014. “The garden is designed to be an enjoyable place to sit and be outside, but also to be around something you grew yourself.”

ResLife’s hope is that the garden fencing, irrigation and bed will be built by July 2016 in preparation for the Fall 2016 Semester.

While the project has already secured funding of $7,876.50 from the Student Sustainability Collective’s “The Green Initiative Fund,” the garden and associated initiatives need approval from the University Sustainability Council and other university entities.

The construction and management of this student-driven community garden is just one phase in the committee’s plan to create a greener, healthier and more sustainable campus experience for both students and faculty at Florida Tech.

The Reslife Sustainability Committee is broken down into three distinct task forces, all named after various shades of green, designed to manage these various projects.

Task Force Jade is in charge of planning and designing the community garden and infrastructure for Evans Hall. Task Force Myrtle is working to redesign the old campus services room on the first floor of Evans Hall by the Black Kats Kafé. Task Force Emerald is in charge of future SLLC programming and education for residents.

According to the committee’s president, the projects have a great deal of faculty backing. Students also seem receptive to the idea.

Junior Suzanne Beims said she thinks a community garden is a great idea.

“Being able to take care of something, being able to grow something, is very relaxing and beneficial,” said Beims, describing an orchid she recently befriended. “It is something to take care of outside of school, and that is really rewarding.”

“I think it would be a great place for the stressed student to go and relax, so yes I’m all for it,” remarked computer science major Ezra Perry.

The committee is open to all suggestions and ideas regarding the community garden and the SLLC.