Late night study sessions, never ending research papers, and horrendous parking adventures — the typical stressors students expect to encounter during their time at university. However, for over 30% of our UW Tacoma peers, food insecurity is the unfortunate backdrop in an already challenging atmosphere. The dark, looming reality is that hunger is still incredibly prevalent on our campus — luckily, there is an outstanding community effort to combat the crisis.

The Giving Garden is an intricately designed green space that exemplifies the benefits of urban agricultural practice. Located in downtown Tacoma — at the corner of 21st and Fawcett — the volunteers work diligently to provide students with nutritious and organic food options. With the use of rain barrels to conserve water and the absolute refusal of pesticides, this community garden provides a steady framework into future sustainable ventures.

Fellow UWT student Aubin Duncan is blending her passion for sustainability and restoration ecology to volunteer at the Giving Garden. She has recognized the need for sustainable practices within our community, and is excited to see the garden’s perpetual progress. With help from volunteers like her, the Giving Garden continues to flourish and is successfully combating food insecurity on campus.

The garden is an “open and inclusive space where anyone can snack as they please,” Duncan says, and “provides local produce to those who might not receive nutritious food in their diet.” Besides in-person snacking, fresh produce is hand delivered to The Pantry — an excellent example of true, sustainable agriculture. Not only is local produce environmentally friendly, but students also receive delicious in-season fruits and vegetables. 

Duncan is proud of the garden’s progress over the years, but understands there’s room for  improvement. For instance, developments are being made towards drip irrigation in place of the current spray method — an effort to conserve rainwater and ensure adequate watering. Sustainability practices are ever-changing and evolving, so the garden staff ensures they keep up with modern technology. 

However, Duncan goes on to explain that “exposure is the biggest issue” — students may know about the garden’s existence but are unsure of its exact location. Of course the garden has immensely aided hungry students but imagine if everyone knew about its accessibility. The hunger crisis in Tacoma could, potentially, dwindle into a distant memory — incredible, right?

In order to resolve this complication, it is crucial for faculty to inform students of the garden’s existence — especially if a professor notices signs of malnutrition. Perhaps introduce The Pantry and Giving Garden during the first week of school, and then intermittently remind students throughout the quarter of its location. An easier, less disruptive, method would simply be writing their Instagram — @uwtgivinggarden — on the white board.

I also encourage professors to enjoy class outside — weather permitting, of course — and detour to the garden. Not only will this boost class morale, but student’s will become well-acquainted with the location and — hopefully — discuss their experience with friends and family. Increasing exposure starts by word-of-mouth, so I encourage you to join the conversation and spread the news. 

When I visited this garden I was immediately overwhelmed by a sense of peace — with the greenery and native plant walk, I realized how truly welcoming this space is. Stressed? Hungry? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then the Giving Garden is the solution to your relaxation and snacking desires.