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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Garden workday marks first volunteer opportunity for SFS, SERVE

Breze Reyes / Hilltop Views
The little library located outside the community garden with books students are encouraged to borrow.

Students for Sustainability and SERVE 1 Day hosted their first garden workday of the semester on Sept. 16.

Volunteers were assembled into teams to create mulch pathways, collect trash, build new compost bins, trim pollinators and perform other general garden upkeep. SERVE–St. Edward’s Reflect, Volunteer, Engage–gives students the opportunity to collaborate with local nonprofits. This one-day project was at the campus garden just behind Theresa Hall. 

The garden works directly with Bon Apétit, the catering team at St. Edward’s. Bon Apétit is a “farm to table” catering service. The chefs tell students which crops to grow and later buy them from the garden. These herbs and vegetables will later be served in the dining halls across campus. The money earned from crop sales is then reinvested into the expansion of the garden.

“It’s a gateway to learning more about the ways you can help the environment, you’re serving the community–which is always good and there are mental health benefits to being outside and doing some hard work with your hands,” Garden director Jacob Zivin said. 

Student volunteers pouring mulch throughout the garden. (Breze Reyes / Hilltop Views)

One of the initiatives for the workday was to improve the compost system, which was one of Zivin’s initial goals for the garden. The students learned about the carbon and nitrogen balance needed for a successful compost bin while creating more space to expand the composting area. 

The team in charge of the mulch pathways laid down cardboard to prevent weeds from growing through the paths and in between the crops. This will make the garden more accessible and easy to navigate.

The trash collecting team cleared away any leftover trash lingering from summer. Other teams trimmed dead pollinators, a process which may help bring them back to life as the weather gets cooler. Some students organized the materials needed for the compost bins and shoveled them into heaping piles.

“I’m excited for all the new projects we are planning,” garden manager Danica Morningstar said. “We’re getting the student plot rentals out and trying to get other new ideas started. We’re trying to propose getting chickens, so fun stuff like that.”

Roy Johnson, the arborist at St. Edward’s, oversees all projects at the garden. He helps organize garden-related events, including the Roots and Wings festival, which takes place on Nov. 4. Students, faculty and community members from all over Austin will come together to help grow each other’s gardens. The event celebrates the unity of the entire ecosystem; trees, plants, fungi, birds, bats and more.

“I’ve been seeing more and more interest,” Johnson said. “I don’t know about you guys, but there is a silver lining to the pandemic; people want to get out more especially with nature.”

Students have helped to make the garden more luscious than ever before. Come out to volunteer, create your own garden, or to just hang out in the beautiful outdoors. Keep an eye out for future SERVE and SFS events.      


The student volunteers for the day pose for a group photo in the community garden. (Breze Reyes / Hilltop Views)

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Breze Reyes
Breze Reyes, Staff Writer
Breze is a senior majoring in communication with a minor in journalism and digital media. It is her second semester writing for Hilltop Views. During her free time, Breze likes to be outside in the sun, hang out with friends, practice yoga, swim at the lake/Barton Springs, read books and try new restaurants.

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