Weed and sow in the university’s community garden
The strawberries have been planted; all that remains, is waiting for harvest time. One year after the launch of the idea, the university’s community garden has become reality. ‘I hope this will turn into an outdoors meeting space.’
The rose arch is slightly crooked, but does that matter? Not per se, however several gardeners of the occasion attempt to reposition the gateway anyway, this time slightly more firmly on its feet.
There is hardly anyone working in the university’s community garden on Tuesday with gardening experience to speak of. How deep should you plant strawberries? Can you plant violets in the herb garden?
‘The main idea is that we do it together’, says Hannah Markusse, coordinator of student welfare and one of the founders of the community garden. ‘The aim is for students and employees to come together and muck about in the soil with their hands.’ She holds up her own dirt-covered fingers as proof. According to Markusse, it’s a good way to get out of your own head. ‘This way, you can come up with new, refreshing ideas.’
The idea for the Radboud community garden came up last year. There was an empty stretch of land next to the Hortus in the back of Brakkenstein park. The Campus & Facilities department removed the top layer of earth and put down fertile soil, while the idea’s originators were schooled by experienced gardeners from Gelukkige Groentes (En: Happy Veggies), a gardening club with two plots in Malden and Ooij; this way, they knew what to look out for. The first ‘Volunteer Day’ -it snowed- was in March.
‘This is our second Volunteer Day, and it’s incredibly fun to see so many people show up’, according to Frederique van Alfen. In her professional capacity she works at the Campus & Facilities department, but she also one of the driving forces behind the community garden. All around her, roughly twenty workers are shuffling around in gardening- and hiking boots. As there are also international students participating, communication happens in both Dutch and English. Everything is discussed in WhatsApp and Teams, so that everyone’s aware what needs to be done.
Psychology student Eric Fleischer is working on an ingenious way to collect water in rain barrels. When it rains, the water pools on a shelter that formerly served as an awning for the entrance of one of the (now demolished) Thomas van Aquino buildings; now it offers shade to the gardeners. There are also wooden planters for lettuce and strawberries made from pallets, and picknick tables are forthcoming.
‘I hope this will turn into an outdoors meeting space’, Markusse says. There are also ideas for a summer harvest festival. Additionally, zucchinis and pumpkins grown in the garden may wind up in soup served in the Refter. ‘It should really become a place for the entire university community, where people can take breaks and pick their own apples.’
In the meantime, the rose arch has been straightened somewhat. The rose bushes still need planting, but that will have to wait until the thaw.
The community garden is an initiative by several departments, and is sponsored by the staff association, the sustainability department, the Radboud Student Fund, Human Resources, Student Affairs, and Campus & Facilities. Join this Teams-group if you want to participate.
Translated by Jasper Pesch