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Student group expands garden, plants sustainability in St. Edward's University culture

The group Students for Sustainability has worked since 2011 to grow vegetables for the St. Edward's University food bank.

AUSTIN, Texas — For 10 years, Students for Sustainability have grown produce to help provide some food for the St. Edward's University food bank. Over the past year, the garden has doubled in size, adding a pollinator garden, new fencing, as well as a new tulip garden on Saturday.

"Our main goal for this year would be renovating this garden," Luke Tobias, SFS's garden director, said. "We did some renovations at the garden and expanded it, added a pollinator garden, student-access compost bins as well."

Luke became garden director last November. Over the past year, Students for Sustainability, led by Luke's twin brother Ethan, have tried growing the volunteer core to grow the garden, as well as improve sustainability education.

"My main goal is for the gardening is to have that student involvement kind of increasing the the education of students, how to grow their own food as well as reducing their waste," Luke said.

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"We recognize that we have a sense of duty to protect the environment, to fix the mistakes that older generations have done to our planet," Ethan said. "I kind of just felt a sense of duty to one: change my lifestyle, become more sustainable and two: educate my family, friends, peers, students to adapt the lifestyle of lower waste, lower carbon footprint."

Luke organizes a volunteer garden work day once a month. Saturday, nearly a dozen volunteers helped plant a new tulip garden, which Luke hopes will be perennial. Luke added he's out at the garden almost every day fixing something or taking care of the plants from pests or any damage.

RELATED: Demand in food pantries higher now than when COVID-19 pandemic started

Every season, SFS plants new vegetables to donate to the university's food bank. This fall, kale and collards are two of the garden's featured leafy greens.

"We do have our on-campus food bank here that serves students who are in need of food, so we donate that fresh produce to that food bank here on campus," Luke said. "Whatever they don't need or want, we do donate it to certain food banks here in Austin. It just all depends on the amount of harvest."

Luke hopes to plant the seeds of sustainability in his volunteers. His personal favorite way to be green: composting.

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"Food waste is really a problem that I've kind of like looked more into," Luke said. "We throw a lot of food away in the U.S. as well as globally. We just throw a lot of food away. So for me, composting is a simple, sustainable lifestyle that you could do mostly anywhere."


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