Edible garden project unveiled at UNC-Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL, NC (WTVD) -- A new food initiative will soon be harvested at the UNC Chapel Hill Campus.

"We are going to be the first public university in the United States of America to have a program like this, where we are integrating edible plants into all of our landscapes all across campus," said Emily Auerbach. She along with members of the student government are heading up the project, which will make fresh produce and herbs accessible to students this fall.

Rebecca Chaisson is one of the student government volunteers on the project. "I think it's great. It's such a big part of Carolina as a whole, the state as a whole, and now it's being brought closer to student body," she said. "And for those of us who are from out of state it s an even better tie to where Carolina comes from."

Students like Aron Guttenberg think it could really spice up their living experience. "I live in a dorm, so cooking isn't always the easiest option. To bring my own herbs to the dining hall seems almost funny to me, but would be really awesome if it became a reality," he said.

Auerbach says edible landscapes are becoming a trend across the country.

"Edible landscapes is something that is sweeping the nation in home gardening, in public parks, but not really at public universities so far. People are realizing that they can make more of their land than just having lawn or purely ornamental plants. If you are going to be putting in plants you might as well put in plants that you can use or you can eat," she said.

Choosing the right plants is one of the key ingredients to the program's success.

"We don't want to put something like a carrot in there. Someone will come by and harvest the carrot and leave a hole in the ground, and then we have a gross empty hole in the middle of campus. Instead, we want to use things like blueberry bushes or fig trees, where if somebody comes by and harvests a little bit, we've still got a beautiful plant that's just as great looking as everything else we have on campus," Auerbach explained.

And although the food will be grown to eventually eat, the main goal is education and outreach.

"If every single student does end up picking all of their meals from the campus, that's absolutely fine. We just want people to see these landscapes and engage with them and think differently about what a landscape can look like," Auerbach said.

If you would like to volunteer to help clear the beds and plant some seeds, visit the Edible Garden home page, here. Students and community members are needed to help make it a success. There will be a volunteer planting day on November 21 at 2:00 p.m.

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