There are 70 plots in the two gardens at Student Family Housing at the University of New Mexico.

And for Denise Mitchell, “since their opening in late 80s, early 90s, the gardens have been one of the beautiful spots of their kind at the housing complex.”

Mitchell, the area coordinator for the SFH, said the idea began when wives of two students planted in kimchi pots.

In the following years the project gradually evolved and turned into a garden, and everyone in the office being in charge of the complex added to the gardens, she said. Plaques were added in an effort to make the plots easier to find.

UNM’s Physical Plant Department adds to the gardens with efforts such as tilting grounds to adding more soil to the plots every year, Mitchell said.

For access to a plot of land, residents must complete an electronic application process, she said. The residents have to apply for the plots within a specified time frame. On completion of the process, residents are allotted either one or two plots based on plot availability. Residents must renew their plots every year, and plots are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Arati Prasad, who is married to one of the residents at SFH, said, “Gardening is a family activity, and I enjoyed doing work with my family in my plots.”

Mitchell said, she has completed various contributions to the gardens herself, ranging from helping assign the plots to adding signs about rules of the garden. She also said SFH has made the plot reservation system efficient and fair, as it used to not be electronic.

“The location of the gardens is really important. They are near the driveway of the complex, and one cannot pass by without stopping for a while and (having) a glance of the gardens, especially around sunset,” said Gauhar Sabih, a resident at SFH.

Robert Gandara, another resident at the complex, said, “You can find everything in these gardens. I grow potatoes, onions, carrots, spinach, turnips and many more.”

Residence Life & Student Housing takes great interest in gardens at the complex. Various services including watering, adding soil and weed cleanup is done on a regular basis, Mitchell said.

Tasawar Shah is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @tashah_80.