Organic garden plants first fall crop, takes new name

Jason Howard

Photo by Keri Weiland
UNF students planted the first crop of the season Sept. 21 in the Frederick C. and Ophelia T. Orgier Gardens.

UNF’s organic garden team planted its first crop of the season in what is now known as the Frederick C. and Ophelia T. Ogier Gardens Sept. 21.

This semester’s crops include lettuce, broccoli, radishes, collard greens, plum trees and a breadth of various other fruits and vegetables.

Formerly known as the UNF Osprey Gardens and the Organic Garden, the space was renamed after the parents of Bruce Ogier, a UNF alumnus, who initiated the garden with a donation in 2009 and contributed more than $100,000 in donations over the years.

The Ogier Gardens, formerly located at the UNF Wildlife Sanctuary, were moved behind Lot 18, near the UNF Skate Park.

Carmen Franz, garden coordinator for UNF Health Promotion, said the new facilities have expanded the gardens to a full acre of fenced space, which accommodates 2,500 square feet of row crops and other communal projects.

The expansion resulted from Chartwells’ request to UNF Recreations last spring to buy the produce grown by the gardens, in addition to university interest in student-grown produce.

Ross Keen, a UNF anthropology sophomore and president of the UNF Organic Gardening Club, said the club has 500 students signed up, and there are now 75 active members.

Students can visit the gardens, attend organic gardening workshops and learn about Florida-friendly landscaping and healthy eating habits.

Volunteer times are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for students and community members who would like volunteer at the new gardens.

Cara Rotman, a UNF nutrition junior, said she came out to the garden for a class. She said she adopted a plant bed to work on along with her friends throughout the semester.

The plant bed Rotman adopted is a part of the Adopt-A-Beds project. Those beds are available to all students on a semester-to-semester basis.

Students can expect to see crops like beets as early as the end of October. But the majority of produce will be ready for harvest by the end of November, Franz said.

The crops will be used in the Osprey Cafe and are available for sale every Wednesday at UNF  Market Days.