UMA’s Community Gardens are seedbeds for social connection and civic engagement.
Over the last few years, the University of Maine at Augusta Community Gardens have been reborn as educational centers that integrate coursework, research, student clubs, campus events, and outreach to surrounding communities.
In the gardens, growing community and growing food take place side by side. The vegetables we grow are donated to on-campus food closets and off-campus food banks to as part of our commitment to address food insecurity in the state of Maine. In this way, the UMA Community Gardens are not just projects for engagement but also for service and justice.
The Augusta Campus Community Garden
We had a wonderful 2018 season at the big 9000 square-foot UMA Augusta-campus Community Garden, situated just north of Jewett Hall, right by the bronze Moose statue we know and love. The ground is thawed in Spring 2019 and we’re ready to go, with beans, peas, brussels sprouts, sunflowers, broccoli and radishes already in the ground but much more in store.
As Spring turns closer toward Summer, we’d love to see you! Augusta Campus Garden folks get together every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 to 1. Come on by!
The following are just some of the accomplishments of the Augusta-campus garden and UMA Augusta garden club in 2018:
- The growth of 716 pounds of fresh vegetables, every last pound of which was donated to the Augusta Food Bank to help ease food insecurity in Central Maine, with particular vegetables grown with guidance from food bank leadership according to community-articulated need;
- Participation by the UMA Augusta-campus Garden Club in two food drives, bringing in 121 packages of dry prepared food (plus $4.26 in cash) to the Augusta Food Bank;
- Harvesting and delivery by the UMA Augusta Community Garden Club of 11 packages of seeds saved from the garden to the Katz Seed Library and delivered a further 63 packages of seeds to UMA students and their families at on-campus events;
- Across the year of 2018, investment of significant energy in a large number of events: 113 separate sessions of gardening, garden stewardship, garden club meetings, and garden-sponsored campus events were held on the Augusta campus alone, participated in by 305 people, drawn broadly from the ranks of students, faculty, staff, and community members.
- Involvement of 14 campus groups in the Augusta-campus “adopt-a-bed” program to plant and care for vegetables in dedicated raised beds;
- Successful incorporation of habitat for two species of pollinating bees with support from a Honeybee Conservancy Grant obtained by Associate Professor of Sociology James Cook and UMA Augusta Biology major Arik Ross;
- Development and submission of a Cultural Events Committee grant with Art student Richard Stone, Art Lecturer Patricia Brace and Prof. Cook to re-envision the Augusta-campus area around the community garden as a “Reclamation Park”;
- The planting and growth of the first successful garden labyrinth at UMA. White clover makes the path of the labyrinth, with its nitrogen-fixing properties adding health to the garden soil and its many flowers helping our friends the bees. In 2018, we had three kinds of sunflower growing in the garden (at three different heights, up to 15 feet tall) to make the walls of this walkable path. In the center: a secluded relaxation space with an aromatic herb garden. In 2019, we’ll plant more edible vegetables where this year the sunflowers bloomed.
- Incorporation of the garden as an educational space for 5 academic courses across 4 academic programs.
The UMA Community Garden on the Augusta campus was also the site of significant extracurricular academic work:
- Comparative research by Prof. Cook, Liberal Studies major Larisa Batchelder, and Justice Studies major Susan Kiralis-Vernon examining the prevalence and characteristics of campus community gardens at state universities across the United States;
- Faculty-student collaborative research by Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems Matt Dube and CIS Major Philip Foss on the development of a sensor-based observational and predictive system for garden conditions;
- An art exhibition — “What is Community?” — developed by Associate Professor of Art Robert Rainey and many student members of the C.A.U.S.E. Club;
- Ongoing action research by Prof. Cook to operationally iterate the inputs, actions, outputs and outcomes of work on the garden project.
Visit the UMA Augusta Garden on Facebook or call 207-621-3190 to find out more!
The Bangor Campus Community Garden
The UMA Bangor Community Garden is a space for anyone to explore the world of gardening. Don’t hesitate to get involved! Can you dig it?
The garden is growing!
We currently have about 1500 square feet of growing space planted. There is zucchini, sage, tomato and basil, carrots, beets, peas, beans, chard, kale, sunflowers, pumpkins, and Iroquois corn planted in the main plot. In the raised beds we have strawberries, potatoes, onions, and peppers.
There has been a small but dedicated group of students out every week for our regular Thursday volunteer hours (10:00am – 1:00pm). A handful of students and staff have come to the Bangor Community Garden events, including a bonfire with s’mores, rock painting, and a water gun fight. We have a lot of fun! Everyone is welcome. The more the merrier, and no experience necessary.
A group of students and staff met out at the Bog Walk early this summer to meet with Jim Bird and a group of Bog Walk volunteers. They loaded up 9 sections of the old boardwalk, which are made of hemlock – a very durable wood. 6 of the sections have been converted into raised beds, and the last 3 will be converted into a large compost bin for the garden’s green waste. The Bog Walk crew were happy to have the sections reused.
Sprague’s kindly give us a good price and delivery deal on 10 yards of high quality soil and compost mix. A little later in the summer, we intend to put together a small plaque or sign thanking the Bog Walk and Sprague’s for their support to help our garden grow.
We’ve planted our first tree! An apple tree from Food And Medicine’s Solidarity Harvest Benefit Auction was donated it to the garden by Dr. Corlew, and has been names “Clementine” by the students. The sapling came from North Branch Farm in Monroe, ME. They (and the folks at FAM) were delighted to hear the tree is in our community garden.
Please use this contact form to find out more about the UMA Community Gardens.
Cultivating Community: The Garden Seminar
Spring of 2016 marked the first offering of SSC 334, Cultivating Community: The Garden Seminar. This course applies theory and research in sociology and psychology to the practice of growing a community garden, but also to the challenge of growing a successful student organization that supports and sustains the garden. In the process of increasing food security and building a better community, students gain skills in academic analysis, organizing, mobilizing, framing and (yes!) gardening.
SSC 334 was team-taught by faculty members Dr. Kati Corlew and Dr. James Cook for three years, moving back and forth from Augusta to Bangor in alternating years. Now that gardens on both campuses are taking off, starting in Spring 2019 our team is splitting up to allow the course to be taught every year on both the Bangor and Augusta campses!
We’d love to see you in our Cultivating Community class this upcoming Spring. If you’re interested in joining the Bangor class, contact Dr. Corlew (phone: 207-262-7752 | e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. If you’d like to know more about the Augusta class, contact Dr. Cook (phone: 207-621-3190 | e-mail email@example.com). We look forward to hearing from you.