Members of the Loyola University Chicago’s Growers Guild and students involved with the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy (CUERP) gathered on a murky Saturday to create gardens that will produce fruits and vegetables throughout the spring and summer.
“It’s going to be an urban agriculture demonstration,” said Sarah Gabriel, 22, a senior sociology major, currently enrolled in the solutions to environmental problems (STEP) class that is helping with the garden. “The idea is to have a working farm on the campus to show people what kind of farming and gardening they can do in the city.”
Two gardens were made on Saturday. The Growers Guild created one on the terrace of Mertz Hall. The other one is being made by CUERP in a vacant lot on the corner of Loyola Avenue and Winthrop Avenue.
However, CUERP couldn’t just grab some shovels and start planting seeds.
“All the soils, pretty much, on campus are really alkaline,” said Adam Schubel, an instructor in CUERP. “There’s a limited number of crops we can grow in those conditions so we decided to build a number of raised beds… and filling those with compost so we can grow a wider variety of plants.”
People passing the garden will notice rectangular capsules filled with dirt. Eventually, these raised beds will grow crops such as peppers, tomatoes, onions, leeks, kale and lettuce.
This is the second year the Grower’s Guild has made a garden on the Mertz terrace. According to Elias Majid, 22, a senior biology major and president of the club, Mertz residents were “confused and avoided it at first.”
“We had some vandals and people took fruits and vegetables,” Majid said. “Eventually a feeling of ownership emerged among the Mertz residents and people started keeping an eye on it.”
When the gardens start yielding food, the fruits and vegetables will be offered to the people who helped make the gardens.