Sprouting sustainability practices: UW-Green Bay student Tyler Delsart grows in SLO garden manager role

Nestled into the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Student Services Plaza, between the University Union and the Cofrin Library, is a quaint organic garden, complements of the student organization, “Sustainable, Local, and Organic (SLO) Food Alliance.” The guy with the trowel and a hose is likely student Tyler Delsart.

SLO was created in 2008, when a group of students went to a dean with the idea to plant an organic garden on campus as a way to jump start advocacy for campus sustainability. Originally given a small plot of land, they were forced to relocate each year, as the garden gained in popularity. Now in a central location, the campus community can watch the garden sprout with new life each year.

This is the first year that the University (Sustainability Committee, the Center for Biodiversity and Natural and Applied Sciences) has funded a garden manager, who provides a weekly gardening service. You will find Environmental Science major, Tyler Delsart, on the plaza  most Tuesdays and Thursdays. He handles the majority of the planting and tending of the garden; while other members of SLO help out when they are able.

The goal of the group continues to be to provide an avenue for a healthier campus community, and while spreading the message about the benefits of organic gardening.

“It is important to understand where our food comes from, and to grow it in a way that supports multiple organisms,” Delsart says.

Having a food system on campus is a stepping-stone to sustainability, he believes.

“What many people don’t know,” he continues, “is that agriculture is the leading cause of environmental degradation. Planting an organic garden is an easy alternative to agricultural production, and provides a bio diverse permaculture.”

Delsart plans to continue in the sustainable farming after he graduates, and hopes to eventually start an organic farm in the area.

Volunteers with the garden have a unique opportunity, which includes learning about sustainability, as well as biodiversity. The plants are organized in such a way that each plant interacts and aids in the growth of the rest; for example, the leeks are beside the carrots because they keep away carrot flies.

Funds for seeds and activities such as field trips are provided by the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee (SUFAC). SLO buys seeds locally. Since the idea is simply to build a better food system on campus, all proceeds go right back to the university and the students.

This season’s most popular attractions are the Asian greens, which can be found in the salad mix option.

E-mails with a list of available products are sent out on Mondays, and operate on a first come-first serve basis. If you receive an e-mail confirming your order, product pickup is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Thursday.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.

SLO Food Garden - Tyler Delsart

–Story by Kelsie Vieaux, Marketing and University Communication intern; photos by Dan Moore, photographer/videographer, Marketing and University Communication

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