Trowels in hand, students and staff from organizations and departments across the UTRGV Edinburg Campus planted seeds for a raised garden bed on Community Garden Day in late September at the UTRGV Garden & Greenhouse.

Roberto Cantú, executive director for the UTRGV Department of Auxiliary Services, coordinated Community Garden Day, which is part of the university’s commitment to sustainability and a healthy lifestyle,

“The ultimate goal is to get people to consume and incorporate more fresh vegetables into their diet, and basically support UTRGV’s overarching goal of creating a healthier Rio Grande Valley,” Cantú said.

Every semester starts a new season, and with it, new plants. Rows of tomatoes, chile piquín (pequin peppers), celery and more were sprouting from their neat boxes, ready to be transferred to the garden beds.

All an organization has to do in order to plant in the garden is bring a couple of representatives from their club, and fill out an application stating they will uphold the rules of the garden. The most important rules? Keep everything organic, and understand that chemical pesticides are prohibited.

Graduate student Stephanie Kasper, who is studying agroecology and is a farmer herself, was on hand to give advice and provide lessons for the participants.

“I love watching people learn about food, and I love teaching about it.” Kasper said.

Her advice for the Community Garden Day gardeners was to plant larger produce on the west side of the bed, so that when the sun rises in the east, the rest of the plants are not overshadowed. This way, all your growing fruits and vegetables get the sunlight they need, she said.

Michael Villarreal, a member of the UTRGV Financial Aid team at U Central, has attended the Community Garden event for the past two years. He and others were there to learn, and to take home ideas for their own projects.

“I’ve had coworkers come here even before I started working at Financial Aid,” he said. “It’s become a tradition, and I’m having fun.”

Cantú said creating and augmenting a garden culture is what Community Garden Day is all about.

“The whole idea is to encourage people to grow more vegetables,” he said.

The organizations that contributed to the garden will get to keep produce from the garden and are guaranteed a spot in the next semester’s gardening event.