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Volunteers garden life at UCF

Contributing Writer

Published: Sunday, July 18, 2010

Updated: Sunday, July 18, 2010 16:07

Central Florida Future

Renita Frett

The UCF Arboretum's Garden Day brought a little more color to campus on Thursday.

Volunteers from UCF Dining Services, Volunteer UCF and Simple Living Institute joined the Arboretum to plant a citronella plant, a root beer plant, a pecan tree and more in the Organic Community Garden near the Harris Corporation Engineering Center.

"This Garden Day we know will help bring our family at UCF Dining closer to each other and our environment through hands-on community involvement," said Eden Wetherell, Dining Services' sustainability coordinator. 

According to Wetherell, Dining Services donated $250 for the Arboretum to pick out plants it wanted in the garden. The plants were bought from South Seminole Farm and Nursery on June 30.

Participants met behind the Harris Corporation Building at trailer 525 at 10 a.m. They then headed to the organic farm, which is located behind the trailer, and were instructed on how to weed the garden by Tina Richards, education director at the Arboretum.

The volunteers weeded until noon to prepare for plants like homestead tomato seeds, a key lime tree and a pomegranate tree to be planted. These plants were selected because they are native and can withstand the heat, Richards said.

"In Central Florida, we have the climate where we have really high temperatures and occasionally really low temperatures, so a lot of these plants can thrive in that kind of climate," she said.

Dining Services fed the volunteers Domino's Pizza and Honest Tea by Coca-Cola at noon.

Some volunteers continued to plant and help out after the event ended.

Richards said the Arboretum has a partnership with the Student Sustainability Alliance to  maintain the garden. She also said a leadership group of 12 students will help take care of the garden, and they will also bring in other groups like Volunteer UCF and the Simple Living Institute to help.

Tia Meer, the founder and president of Simple Living Institute, said her organization is a partner of the Arboretum.

"We usually partner with the big events," Meer said. "We did it last summer also."

Rosemary Chacko, a senior biology major, said she was invited to the event by a friend and decided to stop by after her class.

"It was fun," she said. "I was surprised by how many people came out. I thought I would be one of the only ones here."

Sarah Parker, an intern at the Arboretum, helped organize the event with Volunteer UCF and said she was happy with the volunteer turn out.

"You always get a different group of people every single time with different skills," she said.

Parker said the volunteers were great, and it was a great partnership between the Arboretum, UCF Dining, Simple Living and Volunteer UCF.

According to Richards, the Arboretum has a lot of events in which anyone can attend.
Wetherell said that there might be other events like this in the future, and Dining Services is proud to support the Arboretum whenever possible.

"To be able to participate in helping the UCF Arboretum's garden flourish, and to watch it grow knowing we were involved, is always a rewarding experience we look forward to and hope many more people get involved with," Wetherell said.

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