By Richard Zagrzecki
The plentiful rains that have fallen across the Houston region this summer have been both a blessing and a curse for the University of Houston campus community garden.
The good news? The vegetables are thriving and the harvest has been plentiful.
The bad news? The weeds are thriving as well.
That’s where volunteers can play such a crucial role. The UH Office of Sustainability, which oversees and maintains the garden, is always in need of people to donate their time to help with its upkeep – including pulling all the weeds that are constantly popping up.
“We welcome anyone who would like to come out and help us maintain the garden,” said Sarah Kelly, program manager for the Office of Sustainability. “We need help with pulling weeds, watering and harvesting.”
Interested volunteers can email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to help out in the garden. There are also two upcoming volunteer events scheduled for July 16 at 4 p.m. and July 22 at 8 a.m. More information about them is available at www.facebook.com/UHGarden/events.
All the food that is grown in the garden is donated to charity. The Manna House, a food pantry located in the Third Ward not far from the UH campus, is the main recipient of the produce. As the summer heats up, the garden is producing its fair share of beans, watermelons, lettuce, zucchini, squash, okra and peppers. Numerous herbs are being grown. Soon, cantaloupes will be popping up as well.
None of the vegetables have been harmed or killed by the excessive rains, including the downpours that swamped the campus over the Memorial Day weekend. If anything, the rain has made the plants grow faster. That, unfortunately, also includes weeds.
“When the rain comes, and it has come a lot this summer, you have to worry about the weeding. When you have a lot of summer rain and then a lot of sun, that is when the weeds thrive,” Kelly said. “In the summer, we don't have as many students on campus, so we don't have as many volunteers. We could really use the help.”
Lupe Orozco, a UH student, is one of two community garden assistants. She has been spending much of her time out in the sun and heat. The rain, she said, has had a positive impact on the garden, especially the squash, cucumbers and zucchini. At least twice a week, she harvests some of the vegetables. During the spring semester, 202 pounds of food was produced by the garden.
“Overall, the garden is doing very well this summer,” Orozco said. “It’s a lot of work to maintain, but it is well worth the effort. Everyone who volunteers some of their time to help always leaves with a sense of satisfaction. It’s a great feeling.”