HPDP researchers helped turn an idea for an employee food bank into an opportunity for members of the UNC community learn about gardening while growing vegetables on campus. The Carolina Campus Community Garden holds work days every Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.
A new garden brings the UNC-Chapel Hill community the opportunity to get dirty and enjoy fresh vegetables without leaving campus.
Several staff from the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) have been involved in the planning and planting of the Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG).
The CCCG mission is “to provide the space and support to grow vegetables and fruit so that all employees have access to fresh produce; and to foster a community among staff, students, faculty and the local residents.”
“We started planning the garden in April of 2009,” CCCG Coordinator Claire Lorch said. “We didn’t have our first work day until March 20, 2010.”
The garden grows lettuce, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, basil, dill, cucumbers, peppers tomatoes and eggplant.
“Gardens are important because the more that people can know what it takes to grow their own food, the better consumers they will be,” said Robin Crowder, project director of the Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project. “People can grow specifically what they like, it is cost effective and it’s a good way to involve families in the process.”
Volunteers tend the garden on Wilson Street, across from the Carolina Center for Public Service, every Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.
Staff, faculty, students and local residents at the University of North Carolina are encouraged to help work on the garden. No experience is necessary.
“It’s really a group effort,” Lorch said. “We have a really faithful group of people.”
Crowder added that most of HPDP’s involvement stems from its director, Alice Ammerman, who is also a nutrition professor at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the principal investigator on the Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project.
“This is Alice’s passion. She is working very hard to increase everyone’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the workplace,” Crowder said. “Alice has been involved with the garden from the very beginning.”
Lorch added that originally there had been talk of starting a food bank for those at the university in need of healthy food when Ammerman suggested starting a community garden.
“Gardens can bring people together,” Lorch said. “There’s something about getting your hands in the dirt and growing things, it’s a very satisfying experience.”