Students stretch green thumbs in community garden
While rushing around campus, one may have noticed an area between the Communications Building and the tennis courts, full of blooming flowers, vegetables and blossoming shrubs. This peaceful place is the Lamar Community Garden.
Student president Bette Paredez said the garden, which began in 2012, is expanding this semester.
“We currently have this location by the Student Health Center, but we are getting very close to ground breaking day for a new location out past the dorms,” she said.
Paredez said that the garden still has plants left from summer, including peppers, okra and purple sweet potato.
“We are also putting in our crops for fall, which include lettuce, carrots, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, turnips, beans and peas, so far,” she said. “We have herbs like sweet basil and lemon basil, mint (and chocolate mint), turmeric, and oregano. There are also fruit trees like apples, pomegranate, loquat, plum, and avocado that haven’t been here long enough to fruit, and some that have, like our figs, pineapple guava bush, peach tree and many citrus like satsuma and the Meyer lemon tree.
“We also have a banana tree with a flower, so I’m hoping it will have bananas. There are also many flowers, like zinnia, marigold, gardenia, lantana and I’m trying bluebonnet for the first time. So far I just have little sprouts.”
Paredez said there is a part of the garden for decorative trees and perennials, but the main part is for produce which will be donated to SETX Food Bank, Some Other Place and Slow Food Beaumont.
As part of campus, the area offers an opportunity to educate the community on gardening, Paredez said.
“Anyone who comes has an opportunity to learn techniques for growing their own food and also about where their food comes from before it gets to that store shelf,” she said. “We also are trying to add some beauty and variety to campus, and have a relaxing place for students to take a break.”
Paredez said anyone can volunteer — all they have to do is show up. A work session schedule is posted on the Facebook and Orgsync pages with dates and times.
“Anyone can just come to a meeting,” she said. “We give a tour at the beginning of each and provide all the supplies you need — and refreshments, too. You don’t have to worry about missing meetings. If you can’t make one, because it’s a volunteer thing, just come whenever you can.”
Students are able to get community service hours for attending sessions.
“There is a student organization part of the garden, also,” Paredez said. “Once you come to enough meetings to know what you’re doing, you can start getting assignments outside of regular sessions and become more involved like that.”
The student club has elections for new officers scheduled for the end of the semester,” Paredez said.
“We need all new officers that will be over the current area and the new one, so they’ll have a great opportunity for leadership experience,” she said. “Students just need to attend at least any two meetings in October to be nominated.”
Paredez said that the most rewarding part of being involved with the Lamar Community Garden is watching the transformation of nature.
“I like seeing the plants go from tiny seeds to flowers and fruit — a little handful of dust becomes green leaves and lunch,” she said. “It’s just amazing to watch that process.”
To get involved, visit the Lamar Community Garden’s Orgsync or Facebook page, or email Lamarcommunitygarden@gmail.com.