Free food is always an appealing message to students. Most of the time, that involves unhealthy options, but UCF is changing that by bringing in vertical gardens around campus which will provide free fruits and vegetables to students.
These organic vertical gardens are a hydroponic garden system called Tower Garden by Juice Plus+®. They have been brought to campus as a chance for students to have more access to fruits and vegetables while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
These gardens are funded by Student Government Association in collaboration with Student Union, Wellness and Health Promotion Services, Health Services and Arboretum.
“Our goal is to not only bring more fresh fruits and vegetables, but also provide students with an opportunity to learn where their food comes from and hopefully inspiring them to incorporate more produce into their diets and even learn to grow their own food,” said Maureen Hawkins, associate director of Wellness & Health Promotion Services.
She said that after graduation, many students will move to an urban region. They will not have easy access to healthy food as often but can learn to have this option.
Besides providing free produce, it is also teaching students to help with environmental wellness no matter what type of environment surrounds them.
Hawkins said they will be here indefinitely.
Currently, these towers are growing produce such as lettuce, swiss chard, kale, garlic chives, cilantro, garlic chives, basil and lavender. Future towers are planned to grow lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, herbs, green beans, squash and collard greens. They can grow produce which are not trees or root vegetables.
Wellness and Health Promotion Services will announce Harvest Days for students to have a chance of harvesting the produce themselves.
There are currently three, one on each floor of the student union. The Student Union is the first location they have been set up. There are three other locations in which the organizations behind them plan to have them in.