Arboretum Opens New Garden With Harvest Celebration

(Photo: Rahma Hassan)


By Rahma Hassan

Students got a first look at the UCF Arboretum’s newest garden at the New Garden Kickoff event Tuesday.

Over 70 students attended the event where they got to harvest plants and vegetables from the garden, tour the greenhouse and learn about what the Arboretum is doing to help with pollination on campus.

There was even a visit from Knightro. He posed with students and helped them with their harvesting.

The Arboretum is in charge of maintaining the ecosystem on campus by making sure not too many trees are cut down, maintaining an herb and vegetable garden, conducting prescribed burns and cleaning up after storms.

The Arboretum started planting in the new garden in March, after the previous one had to be taken down due to the construction of a cellphone tower.

But the new garden site is bigger and better than the previous, said Michelle Winter, co-coordinator of the garden and a senior environmental sciences major.

“Every day or so we try to do a morning harvest and bring it to Knights Pantry so students can have access to fresh food,” Winter said.

The new garden has more space than the previous one as well as new features like drip instead of overhead irrigation, raised planting beds for wheelchair accessibility and a farm section where they planted corn in the summer.

The Arboretum relies on volunteers to help maintain the garden and they get to take some of the harvest home at the end of the day.

“It’s a lot of fun. [Volunteers] do lots of weeding, they plant, they propagate and plant seeds in the greenhouse then transport those plants to the garden, so it’s fun,” said Patrick Bohlen, director of the Arboretum and Landscaping and Natural Resources. “It’s really nice in October and November when the weather is much nicer and it’s not so hot.”

Each year for the past few years, 700-10000 volunteers have worked on the gardens for about 9000 hours per year.

The garden is divided into three areas:

  • Community Garden, where most of the herbs and vegetables are planted. It currently has peppers, fig plants, spinach, basil, mint, ginger, turmeric and stevia, among other herbs.
  • The Greenhouse, where seedlings are grown to be transplanted to the Community Garden and the tower gardens in the Student Union.
  • Pollinator Garden where flowering plants are grown to attract pollinating insects and birds.

The Arboretum is planning to open a fruit tree orchard behind the Community Garden next spring, according to Bohlen. He said they will be planting a few tropical fruit trees, like mango and lychee.

Anyone interested in volunteering can look at the Arboretum’s Knight Connect page, where they can choose a garden they would like to volunteer.

Kelsie Johnson, Arboretum coordinator, said she was very happy with the student turnout at the event.

“We had lots of excited students, lots of curious students and lots of engaged students,” Johnson said. “They like to take free produce and interact with Knightro, so it went really well. I’m super stoked.”

Comments are closed.