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Gardens, Growth and Geniality

Just over a year ago I could be found walking through the Student Union, undoubtedly on my way to find my place in the line of groggy students waiting eagerly for their caffeine fix to be satisfied. The weather had been decent and distractions were easy to come by, especially when lacking the aforementioned caffeine. My somnolent mind was making a feeble attempt at organizing the tasks I had in front of me as the semester was drawing to a close, when I was stopped by a group of students tabling in the foyer.

“Hey, you look like you like to garden,” said a student who introduced himself to me as Max. The conversation that ensued was intriguing, and soon I felt an excitement arise in me. A hopeful sentiment that I may have found something to put my hand in developing at UB and to make some new friends. By the time I walked away, still keen on downing a large coffee before my first class, I was convinced to join UB Campus Garden Club for their first informational meeting, where they would be discussing their plans to rehabilitate the garden at the Lee Road traffic circle.

I could not hope to relate to you within the confines of this blog all of the wonderful friendships and opportunities attending that meeting opened up for me. But by the end of that semester I had become Vice President of the club, and secured my place interning at the UB Office of Sustainability with the responsibility of managing the volunteer corps that would be taking care of the garden over the summer. Interacting with peers who see the importance of maintaining green space, especially in an urban community like Buffalo, has opened my eyes to a multi-faceted world of growth and renewal. Although I could write endlessly about the individual moments that make this club mean so much to me, I’d like to devote this blog to talking about our current projects in hope that some of you will join us on our quest to make UB a more beautiful and sustainable place to live and work.

The 20’ by 20’ plot of land that we currently manage served us moderately well last growing season, but various roadblocks including a weak water source, a lack of pollinators, and absolutely no hope for shade got us thinking about relocation. Multiple areas had been laid on the table during meetings in the fall, and after careful consideration we decided to focus our efforts on moving the garden near the solar strand. The area just north of the center for tomorrow parking lot is where our minds have been for the past few months. There, we found a more reliable source of water and plenty of trees to address the lack of shade, as well as to provide a windbreak that would be essential to our biggest project yet.

UB Campus Garden Club has proposed to the University a set of plans regarding the implementation of an on-campus apiary. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, we are talking about a location devoted to bee-keeping. Not only would this help pollinate our plants to ensure a bountiful crop, we would also be participating in the rehabilitation of our local habitat. If bee populations continue to decline at the rate we have seen in recent years, our civilization may cease to be sustainable. We depend on pollination for the growth of our food plants. UB’s resident bee-keeper, David Marotta has offered his time and knowledge to help us develop an apiary, and we have made the proper connections to initiate this development on an administrative level . But this is where we need your help. In order to prove to the University that this garden club is as force that is here to stay, we not only have to relate to the administration that our goals are to offer new educational tools and a source of fun and relaxation, but we must spread our roots and involve the University at large.

Are you part of a club, team or department on campus? If so, UB Campus Garden Club would like to invite you to build a raised bed at our current location! Our goal here is not only to fill the land we have access to with beautiful examples of what our earth can produce, but to develop long term relationships with other campus groups and give back to the school that gave us this opportunity. In concert with our efforts, and with access to our club’s various skill sets and knowledge, members of your group can engage with each other throughout the spring planning months and over the summer gardening months to grow plants you want to see and use! Gardening has proven to us to be a great team building exercise and the high visibility of the bed can be a fantastic promotional tool! There is still plenty of time for your to get involved with us this growing season and to help bring to life this endeavor UB Campus Garden Club has found passion in, so please reach out to us if you are interested. Contact information can be found below!

In studying anthropology I have been confronted with the fact that in our culture we often find ourselves separating our personal identities from the natural world around us. But permaculture does not exist in a realm divorced from the human experience. In fact, at this point the sustainability of our planet depends on the combined action of humanity. Pessimists will tell you that we cannot save the world, but UB Campus Garden Club is a good place to start thinking about it. In learning about this planet and our place on it, I find myself reaching an empowering point in my college career where I can honestly envision myself accomplishing great things. Not only in a future job as an anthropologist, but right here on this campus in the coming years. I would not have this opportunity if not for the cooperation and devotion of the wonderful friends I have made since applying to UB and joining this organization. I cannot thank them enough and I hope to meet and collaborate with more of you on this journey.

The Fall 2017/Spring 2018 UB Campus Garden Club Executive Board is…
President- Sasha Azeez: sashaaze@buffalo.edu
Vice President- Jacob Leale: jacoblea@buffalo.edu
Treasurer- Alyssa Rosenbauer/Maylan Nguyen: arosenba@buffalo.edu/maylanng@buffalo.edu
Secretary- Brendan Ash: bash@buffalo.edu
Historian- Kelsey Gramza: klgramza@buffalo.edu
Project Manager- Eric Shaver: ericshav@buffalo.edu
Summer Intern- Maylan Nguyen: maylanng@buffalo.edu
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-Eric Shaver
ericshav@buffalo.edu
Student Sustainability Coordinator UB-CDS
Cultural Anthropology B.A. (In-Progress)
Vice President, UB Campus Garden Club