The Lobo Gardens is UNM’s own environmental project, aiming to bring beauty and nature back to campus while inspiring community involvement and interaction.
Third year UNM transfer student Keith Knutila said Lobo Gardens has a clear goal — to educate UNM on the importance of community and nature.
“The objective of Lobo Gardens is to provide the University of New Mexico students, faculty and staff with opportunities to educate themselves and their communities about the practices and health benefits of growing one’s food in sustainable ways,” he said.
The showcase garden is the Real Estate Department Lobo Garden located on the northeast corner of campus, and can be visited by anyone, he said. There are seating areas and information signs posted about the garden.
“In August of 2010, the (Lobo Gardens) website went live, and there has been continued improvement and involvement since,” Knutila said. “The website has lots of general information on the history of Lobo Gardens.”
Knutila has been involved with the RED Lobo Garden since last semester, he said.
Knutila is just one of several students involved with the upkeep of the RED Garden and said Lobos can also work for the gardens by enrolling in a spring semester class.
“The class has both lecture format education and experiential activities included. One of the challenges is providing year-round maintenance for the Gardens, because every semester, UNM has a fresh batch of students while the graduates move on,” Knutila said. “Therefore, it is important to get lots of students, staff and faculty involved to fill those gaps.”
The Lobo Gardens is UNM’s way to get involved with nature and environmental sustainability and is a peaceful and personal place where Knutila goes to learn and share, he said.
“The Lobo Gardens are a place for like-minded students to gather, collaborate and educate about food topics that have a direct impact on the community,” he said. “UNM is committed to sustainable actions through the Climate Action Plan, and part of that plan is to generate food on campus. For me, the Gardens are an opportunity to take control of our campus and to make a long-lasting impact.”
Thanks to the Climate Action Plan, Knutila and the other students who work the Gardens are coming up with unique ways to help the environment and give back.
“The University produces thousands of pounds of organic food waste every year that can be composted and used on our gardens and already existing landscapes,” he said. “The use of this compost will have many benefits, such as decreasing the need for chemical fertilizers. If we could utilize the Lobo Gardens to not only produce food, but to decrease waste, then that would be a win.”
For Knutila, the Gardens foster a sense of campus pride and community.
This year, the Gardens will be hosting the 9th annual UNM Sustainability Expo on April 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the Cornell Mall just east of the SUB.
“There will be live music, food, local farmers and much more. The UNM Beekeeping Club will be on hand to answer questions about campus initiatives,” he said. “There will be demonstrations involving worm composting and backyard chicken raising.”
The sense of community and growth is the most important and powerful thing the Gardens bring to UNM’s campus, Knutila said.
“Having a network of gardens on the campus will not only beautify our surroundings, but it will provide a variety of opportunities to expand the gardens in ways that will help the community. Growing food takes a little organization, moderately hard work and some friends,” he said.
There are many ways Lobos can get involved with the Gardens for their upcoming event and in the future.
“Show up to the Expo on 4/20 to meet the people who are involved in the Gardens and sustainability,” Knutila said.
Troy Amato is a culture reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.