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Grant jumpstarts community garden on Oconee Campus

Community garden
A $1,000 Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) grant helped start a community garden that UNG faculty, staff and students have embraced. The garden is helping UNG's Oconee Campus food pantry and other local food banks.

Dr. Gary Adcox was simply hoping to use a community garden to engage students in stocking an on-campus food pantry with fresh foods while learning about sustainable food production and nutrition when he applied for a $1,000 UNG Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) Initiative grant earlier this year. The way University of North Georgia (UNG) students, faculty and staff have responded to the project has blown him away.

Adcox, director of campus success and strategic initiatives on UNG's Oconee Campus, said the garden is on track to provide more than enough produce for "Nigel's Nest," a pantry serving the university community that opened in March on the Oconee Campus. Now Adcox, and the group of volunteers that tend the garden, are exploring additional ways to share their work with the community. Those ways include sharing the fresh produce with local assisted living communities as well as making contributions to other food banks in Oconee, Athens-Clarke County and surrounding areas.

As interest in the community garden has grown, so have plans for its expansion. Located behind the Facilities and Public Safety Building, plans are already underway to use the garden for more than growing food. For example, Adcox sees great opportunities for math and biology classes to use it for a variety of hands-on learning experiences and labs.

Adcox said UNG Facilities personnel have provided great expertise and help with the garden, which produced sweet corn, okra, peas, and squash during its inaugural season.

The LEAP Initiative seeks to promote High-Impact Educational Practices and identify professors and departments already implementing these practices at UNG.

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