Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article contained several inaccuracies. The earlier version misstated the garden’s age and origin, the cause of the fence damage. The garden was built under Florida Polytechnic, not USF Polytechnic. The fence was damaged by Hurricane Irma, not dilapidation. The earlier version also implied it was unknown what happened to the previous caretakers of the garden. The original students graduated, and the gardener let go. Many thanks to Scott Reinhart for letting us know.
To the southwest of the IST and the still-developing ARC, there is a garden. It was created in the summers of 2016-2017 in Florida Poly’s early years. The original club that took care of the garden, a spin-off of the Sustainability Committee, has since graduated without new students to take over, leaving a project that Florida Poly once prided itself on without caretakers. Even the school’s official caretaker, Ms. Beverly, lost her position during the COVID cutbacks in 2020’s Spring semester.
The garden has since greatly dilapidated. The storms and hurricanes that tear through Central Florida affected the garden; the fence at its perimeter was damaged and never repaired. Thickly overgrown weeds obscure the pathways through the garden, creating an awkward contrast with the neatly trimmed grass just outside the fence. Many plants have spread to beds they were never meant to grow in, reaching far over their now outgrown wooden bedding. Old and rusty tools lie forgotten beside the rotten soilbeds. Shovels stand straight, still halfway buried in the dirt, as if though the persons who left them didn’t realize it would be long before somebody touched them again. Worst of all, most students have no idea that the school even has a garden, let alone that it was once a point of pride for the school.
A small but growing set of students is working to change that. “The Garden Club”, while not yet an actual club, goes to the garden on weekends to continue the repairs they began this semester: cleaning, weeding, and so on. Their resources are limited – they lack an advisor and therefore lack the RSO status to have a budget, something they’re looking to one day apply for. While their leadership looks for an advisor, the club has been making the repairs they’re able to. In the past month, the Garden has greatly improved. The foundations remain rough, but much of the blockage has been cleared; the paths are becoming easier to walk through, and the grow beds are places of renewed possibility. The wasps in the irrigation system are gone and the water has begun to flow. Inventories of what’s broken, what’s working, and what’s needed are on the club’s discord that grows with each meeting. As the garden club grows, so too will the garden.