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What’s Been Growing in the Garden 

By Arlene Medder & Claire Lorch 

As everyone knows, things changed very quickly in March 2020. This applies to the Carolina Community Garden (CCG), too. Without knowing the details of how Covid-19 spreads, the garden was closed to volunteers. That left Claire and her assistant to work in the garden, which of course still needed harvesting, weeding, etc. Plus, due to limited housekeeping staff on campus, distributions to the housekeepers were put on hold. 

A member of the Garden’s advisory committee, Alice Ammerman, put Claire in touch with Carolina COVID-19 Student Services Corps and UNC Hospital’s Food and Nutrition Services. The former provided medical students to volunteer in the garden and the latter provided a recipient for produce; frontline workers, many of them low wage. Produce also went to TABLE, to help supply the 400 or so families in the area.  

Once more people returned to campus, volunteers were welcomed back into the garden and produce was again distributed to housekeepers. However, instead of housekeepers coming to the garden (usually in a van) and helping themselves to the produce, the food is now evenly divided into 14 bags(the amount the refrigerator at Housekeeping can hold), once or twice a week, depending on the harvest. The bags are then delivered to the housekeepers at their zones.  

This past spring the garden also gave away tomato seedlings, pepper plants, and cilantro plants to UNC’s low wage workers. 

In developing news, North Carolina Botanical Garden (CCG’s parent department) staff, in close partnership with the UNC American Indian Center and Native communities are working together to establish an “American Indian Cultural Garden.” The location being considered for this garden is the Carolina Community Garden and across the street from the American Indian Center. It will be a gathering space to share indigenous ecological knowledge and culture, support American Indian students, and a teaching tool for the greater community.  

If you haven’t been over to the CCG lately,  you may not know of a temporary exhibit over by the accessible beds: the D’Arcy McNickle Interpretative Garden. This exhibit came about through a partnership with Professor Dan Cobb and his undergraduate research team, who planted several beds with crops that McNickle, one of the 20th century’s most important American Indian writers and activists, described in his journal. The team also created signage throughout this exhibit.  

In further exciting news, Nutur, the parent company of the Aveda Institute, has agreed to provide the CCG with $6,000 each year for five years. The money will be used to help cover operating costs, including the part-time garden assistant and student leadership positions. Jill Sharpe, Director of Aveda Institute of Chapel Hill, has joined the CCG Advisory Committee and is looking forward to bringing her staff and students to volunteer at the garden.  

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