The Garden Club cultivates ‘home grown, organic vegetables and plants’

Panther Press

Martha Perez-Mendez/Contributing Writer

Tucked away behind the Nature Preserve, a small group of students work to cultivate organic vegetables and plants.

As part of the Garden Club, these students seek to fulfill the organization’s single mission: “to provide a space for the FIU community to gain knowledge about the importance of local and sustainably grown food.”

Mahadev Bhat and Krishnaswamy “Jay” Jayachandram, co-directors of the agroecology program at FIU, developed this garden around ten years ago.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture was the main source of funding for us. If we did not have those programs, we would not have the garden, either,” said Bhat.

From its beginnings, the organic garden has relied on this kind of financial support to expand. These professors used this support and more to create this garden from scratch in efforts to establish a place of gathering that allows for a deeper ecologically educational experience.

Amir Khoddamzadeh currently takes on the role of Garden Club advisor and organic garden supervisor. He works with students and the agroecology program in order to ensure that the garden continues. One way in which they are able to do this is by bringing the FIU community their products for sale.

“Because this is a student club, we don’t have many resources for financial support, but what we do have is the money we get from selling our product,” said Khoddamzadeh.

Each Wednesday at the farmers’ market in the Green Library Breezeway visitors may pick up the organically grown vegetables harvested by club members. Any surplus products not sold there can also be found on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Earth and Environment Department located in AHC-5 on the third floor.

All funds collected go to supporting and expanding the club’s organic garden. This also raises money for scholarships that will send students in the agroecology program abroad to study sustainable agriculture from gardens and farms in other parts of the world.

Khoddamzadeh says it’s important to note the difference between the garden’s produce and grocery store produce.

“We trust our product. We know that everything is organic here. We are not cheating, adding to, spraying any synthetics, etc. to our product. You can confirm that by trying it for yourself and tasting how pure it is,” said Khoddamzadeh.

Being a consumer of the club’s products is not the only way to get involved. Workshops and meetings are held every Friday at 3 p.m. in the organic garden.

Workshops vary in topic, such as the sustainable farming presentation hosted last week by Joshua Munoz-Jimenez, a former garden manager and one of the first students to graduate from the agro-science major.

Workshops and meetings are meant for the entire FIU community to learn about and enjoy sustainable agriculture.

“Many students are coming from majors such as engineering, business, med school… they just want to play with soil. They don’t want to think about their laptops or sit in their office. They want to get outside and relax. So, we thought this was the best time to teach them something,” said Khoddamzadeh.

In efforts to provide an effective atmosphere that achieves the melding of leisure and education, the Garden Club/ Agroecology program has established a handful varying  garden types. Those available to explore include an edible garden, a fruit orchard, a meditation garden, and more.

Students can join and get involved in The Garden Club’s efforts in seeking fun, awareness, education, environmental integrity, and community support.

Garden Club president, Alana Rodriguez, is a senior environmental studies major with a focus in agriculture studies. She believes the opportunities offered to students is what sets the club apart.

“The cool thing about the Garden Club is that there are lots of opportunities to get involved. The garden is always here, so people can always work on it,” Rodriguez said.


Be the first to comment on "The Garden Club cultivates ‘home grown, organic vegetables and plants’"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.