This semester, The University of Southern Mississippi’s Horticulture Club founded the Southern Miss Community Garden to promote environmental advocacy and as an experiment in sustainable urban farming.
The idea for the garden came to USM juniors Sara Watts and Grace Fuller last July.
Watts and Fuller, who have been friends since preschool, both wanted to apply their majors to the project.
Watts, a geography and sustainable development major, acts as the Horticulture Club president and Community Garden coordinator. Fuller is an Environmental Biology major.
“Instead of growing outward, wasting acres and acres of land and tons of water, you can grow up and actually not have much waste at all,” Watts said. “Community gardens allow people to learn about different types of vegetables – their nutrition improves, and their overall health improves.”
Fuller, an environmental biology major, said she is generating interest for the garden to get more people connected to nature.
“People go in the grocery store and don’t really think about it, but all the food that you get is wrapped in plastic and not natural,” Fuller said. “People don’t think about the processes that it took for that food to get to their plate, because we all live in such a fast-paced world that knowing where our food came from and who picked our food is not as important.”
Watts said the project was important to her and her partner.
“This community garden means the world to both myself and my partner, Grace Fuller,” Watts said.
Members of the Horticulture Club and volunteers from the USM Center for Community and Civic Engagement built a fence around the perimeter of the garden Jan. 28 as its first related project.
“Thank you to our officers, volunteers and the USM Center for Community and Civic Engagement for all of their help with getting this event out to the public,” Watts wrote in a Facebook post. “We are so excited for events to come and the positive impact that we will have on the USM campus and in the community.”
Contributions to the Southern Miss Community Garden can count as community service hours, for students interested.
The Southern Miss Community Garden is now accepting donations for gardening equipment, construction tools and painting supplies. Watts said the garden is cash donations as well as looking for sponsorships from local businesses
“We are accepting sponsors as well, and actively trying to gain any sort of help, Watts said. “With the proper funds, we can do so many amazing things with our garden.”
Community members interested in donating or finding out more about the community garden may contact Watts at sara.watts@usm. edu or Fuller at mary.fuller@usm. edu. More information can be found on the Southern Miss Community Garden Facebook page.