It seems hard to believe that in a few short months, Salt Lake Community College has completely transformed the southern landscape at its South City Campus.
This past spring, volunteers and faculty worked together to convert a vacant lot into a campus community garden filled with tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, greens, herbs and more.
“It’s wondrous to watch the little plants grow from seed to twigs,” says lab aide Gregory Enke when talking about his section of the new South City Campus Community Garden. “We are stealing — I mean sharing each other’s bounteous harvest.”
Other garden caretakers, like Enrollment Services specialist Allison Putnam, can relate.
“Well, the food is delicious,” Putnam says jokingly.
Located in downtown Salt Lake City at 157 East and 1700 South, South City becomes the third SLCC campus to host a community garden, joining Taylorsville-Redwood and Jordan.
The South City garden was the “thought for food” of SLCC community partnerships coordinator Sean Crossland and Disability Resource Center assistant director Steven Lewis. Lewis was also involved in launching the other two gardens.
The garden grew rapidly thanks to donations from Grainger Industrial Supply and Campus Facilities, and contributions of time, labor and donated plants by staff, faculty and students.
The series of improvements began with the spring construction of 20 raised planter frames, built-in watering systems, and truckloads of rich fertile soil poured into the planters.
Groups of volunteers signed up in advance to reserve a planter. Additional groups of youth gardeners from the South City Campus Daycare and the adjacent Whittier Elementary School began planting and tending a wide variety of seeds and seedlings.
Like Jack’s magic beanstalk, the plants rapidly grew into a massive jungle of yield, with nutritious vegetables and herbs and beautiful, fragrant flowers for all to enjoy.
To complete the circle of community, produce harvested from the garden will be given to the Bruin Campus Cupboard, which is located on the second floor above The Grand Theatre.
The Cupboard is a full-service food pantry designed to assist hungry students in need and was created by student members of the SLCC Social Work Association, in partnership with the Utah Food Bank. The fresh produce will supplement nonperishable canned goods, which provides the mainstay of most food pantries, by offering healthy and varied nutritional options.
The garden has become a living, working educational model for students and staff to learn about a full range of subjects, including botany, agriculture, water conservation, nutrition, and community needs and responses — along with the power to change the world one planter box at a time.
Everyone is invited to a garden party each Friday at 9 a.m. in the garden. This is a celebratory culmination of voluntary effort and good deeds, as well as a natural time for taste testing the latest harvest.