A partnership between the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Heifer International aims to develop resources and knowledge on urban farming and apply it to UA Little Rock’s Campus Garden.
The collaboration, announced Wednesday at UA Little Rock, will provide students and faculty the opportunity to work with Heifer International though field days, workshops and will also be able to share equipment and work with personnel to further improve the garden.
The Campus Garden Alliance, established in 2016, is a campus organization comprised of students, faculty and staff that is responsible for the garden’s maintenance. Though UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale says the bulk of students involved with the CGA are majoring in biology or earth science, the garden benefits the entire campus community.
"The UA Little Rock Campus Garden is an education gathering space for the entire UA Little Rock community, students, staff and faculty and community neighbors, to learn about sustainable urban farming methods and issues related to food systems, food preservation and food security through hands on, experiential engagement in garden activities," Drale said.
Lily Shaw is a biology student and the president of the CGA. She says one appealing aspect of the Campus Garden Alliance is it highlights the possibilities of urban gardening.
"I think it’s just an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get, especially in the city. People don’t understand that you can garden anywhere, but they think that they need to have land. But you don’t. You can garden in pots or you can garden on your windowsill and this just is a good way for people to learn how to do that," Shaw said.
Rachel Stuckey is the vice president of CGA and is studying art education. She says with Heifer, the garden is going to have greater opportunities to expand.
"It would be awesome if we could explore the use of livestock with gardening. There’s so many benefits to using chickens or cows or, like, pigs that you don’t even think about. Like with compost or with how they take care of insects or bugs in the garden," Stuckey said.
The partnership with Heifer International, Drale says, will allow the garden to be adequately and efficiently maintained. In addition to the technological and educational advances the partnership will also go toward alleviating food insecurity on campus, as a portion of the food grown at the garden will go to the Trojan Food Pantry.
Robert Bloom is the Chief Financial Officer of Heifer International. He says this partnership helps advance Heifer’s mission to "end hunger and poverty and care for the earth."
"By working together, we’re going to be able to show that gardening and small-scale agriculture can have a tremendous impact. And the tangible outcome will be an increased accessibility to local, nutritious food for those in the community by providing food to the Trojan Food Pantry, community farm stands and donations to local organizations that alleviate hunger," Bloom said.
Stuckey says this partnership also benefits Heifer in that it’s another connection they can have with the Little Rock community.
"That’s something that we really try to focus on with the garden is the community. With farm stands and different events and booths and sales that we do, we always focus on talking to people and talking about plants and growing and eating healthy. So that connection I think…it’s really going to be great for everyone," Stuckey said.