Tara Metzger. Photo provided.
Imagine the green, wide-open space outside of Drake and Wentz Halls on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse grounds. Some people see a great space for fraternities to fundraise with their bumping speakers and dogs that can run in circles.
Others see an opportunity to sprawl out and do homework, which I am unsure if you were aware, actually translates to sprawl out and take a nap. Still, others merely see it as a makeshift sidewalk directing them to the esteemed Whitney Dining Center. To some people, this may seem like a great use of such a grand space, but I think we need one more thing: a community garden.
The vast majority of students surrounding campus are unable to continue their gardening habits, as property managers do not want careless college students ripping up their front yards, understandably so.
The fact that I am unable to start a garden in La Crosse due to living in an apartment is one of the reasons why I return to my parents’ home during the summer. If I could continue this hobby at school, I’d be much more apt to stay.
Community gardens are a great way to improve the health of the surrounding community. One of the most obvious health improvements is in regard to physical health. More people feel inclined to eat the proper amount of fruits and vegetables when they are a part of a community of gardeners than if they garden on their own or do not garden at all. Additionally, community gardens have been known to increase the amount of physical activity adults perform in the surrounding area. Having a garden to tend provides a reason for students to make the walk or bike ride into campus worth it. The physical health benefits of a community garden are obvious.
Not quite as obvious are the mental health benefits that come along with gardening. Researchers have found that the act of gardening may lower blood pressure, stress levels, and heart rate. Having the ability to relieve some stress and anxiety between segments of homework and class is something that would benefit all students.
Gardening also allows people to spend quality time alone with their thoughts, which can improve our ability to memorize. Memorization is a necessary tool in all of my classes.
A common concern with community gardens is the funding needed to get the ball rolling. Well, rest assured, funding for this garden will not be an issue. Every semester, each student contributes a small sum of money to UWL’s Green Fund Grant. This grant is available for the utilization of students at any time and has been used in the past for a variety of projects to make our campus more sustainable. This garden could be the next big project, funded completely by the Green Fund.
At the end of the day, a community garden will do no harm to those who are opposed to it. The fraternities will still be able to fundraise, the students will still be able to sprawl out, and long live the path to Whitney. For those who crave a way to connect to nature through gardening this community garden will make all the difference in their experience at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
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