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Mean and Green

What does “Mean Green” bring to mind? If you’re thinking the University of North Texas, you’re right on.

For UNT, however, the “green” is not just about color, it’s also about sustainability.

I recently had a chance to sit down briefly with Gary Cocke, UNT’s Sustainability Coordinator. Cocke helps oversee the numerous student led sustainability initiatives.

One of the very recent initiatives is a community garden, located on the Denton campus. Cocke explained the three main reasons they wanted to start a community garden.

  1. Provide a local source for fresh, organic produce
  2. Provide a place for students to explore their interests in a horticulture and gardening
  3. Build a community of people interested in sustainability.

The garden, now only a few months old, features a pleasing layout of square raised beds along both sides of a curving walkway. Groups can apply for individual plots and grow the vegetables of their choice.

UNT needed a place to store gardening tools and supplies. Beyond pure utility, however, Cocke said they chose an Ulrich storage shed because they liked the green color. For him and his students, green is significant both as a school color and as a symbol for sustainability.

The Ulrich storage building also included built-in shelving, which the gardeners quickly put to full use.

Kemper Rao, Program Director for President’s EDGE was out planting seeds in her group’s garden when I stopped by. She is going to try the traditional “three sisters” approach to gardening. Popularized by Native Americans, it involves planting corn, a climbing bean, and a gourd (squash, pumpkin, or melon) in a group.

With her office being directly adjacent to the community garden, food just doesn’t get much more local or fresh than this!

To learn more about UNT’s ongoing student led sustainability initiatives, including a solar trailer and certification as a bee friendly campus visit http://studentaffairs.unt.edu/sustainable.

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