“A friend with seeds is a good friend indeed” was the theme of a storytelling event hosted at the Lobo Gardens. On Friday, April 21, participants were asked to exchange stories and gardening knowledge with their friends.
The event was to encourage community engagement through storytelling and interaction with nature, according to Amara Szrom, the Lobo Gardens coordinator.
“The event today is about building community and enjoying nature — taking a break from our computers and balancing the academic, very heady life with having our hands in the earth. And giving back to our life support systems like soil, water and plants,” Szrom said.
Marisol Meyer, a first-year master’s student at UNM who studies community and regional planning, worked with Szrom to organize the event and seeks to engage in storytelling while bringing awareness to the garden.
“We really wanted the storytelling event to be mutually exciting for me as a storytelling host, but also bringing exposure to the garden … I think the biggest thing is just getting the word out that it's here and that we have this wonderful space available,” Meyer said.
Gardening and storytelling commonly work together and are linked to community building, Meyers said.
“When we're working with the earth, stories naturally come up,” Meyer said. “When we're planting seeds together, maybe it's with relatives, maybe it's with friends … I feel like stories inevitably emerge from that experience. I think there's always a bridge between storytelling, gardening, working with the land and showing up for your neighbors.”
The Lobo Gardens class, offered through the sustainability studies and civic and community engagement programs, teaches hands-on gardening activities, permaculture design and requires students to develop a project that expands on the impact of the garden, according to Szrom. August Fowler, a student in the Lobo Gardens class, said that his project was focused on creating more gardening resources on campus.
“I'm planning on expanding the garden library,” Fowler said. “I want to expand it to either include more stuff about how to garden for people in our community who might want that resource or put more little community libraries on campus.”
Fowler said that the class is a low-stress environment that teaches students how to live more sustainably by working with the earth.
“It's a really light workload, and we just come here and actually get our hands in the dirt and learn how to garden and how to maintain (it), and how to do it sustainably,” Fowler said.
Szrom said she hopes she can expand the garden onto the mowed and irrigated lawn next door. This would create more opportunities for students and bring more appropriate biodiversity for the local climate.
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“We could have a lot more hands-on experimental sustainability practices happening here. We could have more biodiversity than the lawn is able to offer,” Szrom said.
Beyond the class, Szrom hopes that the garden will continue to grow and gain support from administration, creating more academic opportunities for students.
“I really see the garden as the potential sustainability hub on campus … I'm hoping that the administration will really understand that this garden is a valuable resource for students on campus,” Szrom said. “It's a great place for students to connect, to learn and to experiment with their academic practices. Today is a great example of the administration supporting us, to do that by helping us with this event.”.
Getting involved in the Lobo Garden, Fowler said, helped his overall attitude toward life while helping the local environment.
“It's a really good way to get involved and feel better about your life because thinking about climate change all the time can get fucking depressing … The things that we can do personally to be sustainable and help our environment locally, it's really helpful,” Fowler said.
Addison Key is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @addisonkey11