Calling all green thumbs and outdoor lovers!
In spring 2021, eco-friendly initiatives are being introduced in Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor to make the University of Richmond cleaner and greener. The Office of Sustainability will have a grand opening for UR’s revitalized community garden, located in the Eco-Corridor, in the spring.
The community garden is named “Abby’s Garden” after the garden's co-founder, wrote senior Kate Sjovold, community garden and biodiversity intern in the sustainability office. Abby Ayers, wife of former UR president Edward Ayers, cofounded the garden in 2009, hoping it would be a place for UR community members to grow food and build relationships, Sjovold said.
Faculty, staff and students will be able to apply either individually or as a group for a plot in the garden in January 2021, according to the Office of Sustainability's webpage. Plot distribution will be determined by a lottery system, according to the webpage. The Community Garden Committee has been working to determine a fair process to allocate plots for those who would like to participate, according to the webpage.
The Eco-Corridor, located at the southeast edge of campus, is being restored in a project spearheaded back in the 2011 Campus Master Plan, according to the webpage. The project's goals include the construction of a multi-use recreational trail, removal of invasive plants, management of stormwater and restoration of Little Westham Creek, according to the webpage.
More than 30 plots of varying sizes are available in the community garden, Sjovold said. The group or individual in charge of the plot can decide what to do with it, Sjovold said. Whether the plot is used for planting flowers, herbs or vegetables, they can be a place where the UR community can come together, Sjovold said.
Junior Sabina Vohra said she used the Eco-Corridor for walks with friends and going on runs.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t know about the Eco-Corridor, but it is a really unique place on campus," she said.
Although the formalized community garden initiative is not starting until the spring, students and members of the sustainability office have spent much of the fall semester cleaning up the garden area.
“I’ve spent a lot of time clearing [the garden] out and planting stuff just for a trial run,” Sjovold said. “It’s been really fulfilling to have the opportunity to transform a space into an actual, workable garden space again.”
The sustainability office will be having other clean-up and maintenance events in the Eco-corridor throughout the spring semester for any student or community member who does not receive a plot of land or wishes to get involved outside of the garden, Sjovold said. A goal of the Eco-corridor project as a whole is to manage invasive species and promote a good pollinator habitat, so planting and maintenance of the land are important, Sjovold said.
“The whole Eco-Corridor, including the community garden, focuses on connecting the campus to the community whilst also improving the environmental quality on campus at the same time,” said sophomore Mason Manley, president of GreenUR. “I think giving students more access to outdoor space is always a good thing, and this is just another way of doing that.”
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting with people over nature can be comforting.
“It’s been really fun to have groups of people come out, and even just pulling weeds, everyone gets a chance to talk to each other,” Sjovold said. “Soil is honestly really healing, and physically putting your hands in the dirt and doing something with the land feels really good.”
Contact lifestyle writer Corinne Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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