Learn, plant and grow at the Seminole Organic Garden

Bird's eye view of sustainability hub solar panels and garden beds

Typical student housing options do not offer college students the opportunity to embrace their green thumb. To remedy that issue, the Florida State University Sustainable Campus organization has opened a new Seminole organic garden, giving students the chance to experience hands-on gardening.

FSU Sustainable Campus has started many ecological initiatives on campus, including the game day recycling program “Garnet and Gold Goes Green” and the waste-eliminating Food Recovery Network. The Seminole Organic Garden is a refurbished concept.

The ground was broken for the original Seminole Organic Garden in 2014. After a prosperous three years, an expansion on Legacy Walk in early 2017 meant demolition for the garden.

Louis Castillo, a senior majoring in environmental science, has been the garden manager since August 2016. He oversaw the process of disassembling and rebuilding the garden.

“When the extension was built, we had to remove the garden so that the construction vehicles could get in and out of the area," Castillo said. "Once they finished construction, we were able to rebuild everything and add our new Sustainability Hub.”

The Sustainability Hub is an outdoor learning center committed to informing students about renewable energy sources and advocating for sustainable lifestyles. Solar panels sheath the top of the structure, generating renewable energy to the surrounding area.

The project was funded by FSU Sustainable Campus with help from FSU facilities and FSU alumni. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new pavilion was held on Friday, October 20 at the garden site, which can be found off Varsity Drive near Doak S. Campbell Stadium, in between the Flying High Circus and Wildwood Hall.

Just after the Legacy Walk development was completed towards the end of the 2017 spring semester, Castillo wasted no time getting back to work.

“It was complicated at first because we had a new garden layout that was different from the previous one. We had to map everything out and make sure that everything was at the right angles,” Castillo said.

After a summer of planning, Castillo constructed all 22 beds, which doubled the previous amount of beds, for the renovated garden within two weeks during August. The Seminole Organic Garden held its first workday since reconstruction on September 21. The weather permitting workdays are every Monday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Castillo explained that you don’t need to have a bed rented to attend the workdays.

“We are starting to plant some volunteer beds, which are open for people to come and work at.”

If you are interested in renting a bed, full garden beds are available to FSU groups, organizations, departments and offices for $30 a semester. Individuals may also rent half of a garden bed for only $10 a semester. The first step to renting a bed is to fill out the Qualtrics form, which can be found here.

The Seminole Organic Garden will also host numerous events. The garden has been the site of Jimbo’s True Seminole Tailgate this football season, a tailgating event which aims to provide a safe space for students to participate in game day activities. The event is alcohol and tobacco free. Castillo also mentioned that the Seminole Organic Garden is currently collaborating with the FSU Yoga Club. Both groups are hoping to create a bi-weekly event of “yoga in the garden.” The inaugural yoga session was held this past Thursday, October 26 and another one is scheduled for Thursday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Castillo explained that tenants of the garden beds may either use the seeds provided by FSU Sustainable Campus or bring their own seeds. The only criteria required for seeds not provided by FSU Sustainable Campus is that they must be organic and non-invasive. Castillo also gave insight into what is currently being planted in the garden.   

“Right now we’re planting lots of carrots, kale and pole beans. As the weather gets cooler, we plan to switch to stuff like lettuce and broccoli, maybe spinach.”