University Village Community Garden may stop accepting nonresidents

Amanda Ramirez/Senior Staff

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Starting Feb. 1, a change may be made to the membership regulations of the Community Garden at the University Village in Albany, or UVA. The program, which previously accepted nonresidents as members, may limit acceptances to residents of the UVA.

UVA provides the opportunity for UC students, faculty and staff interested in sustainable agriculture, along with UC affiliates and their families, to grow organic produce and “enrich their lives” at the garden, according to the website. The program has a $20 fee for residents and $40 fee for nonresidents per calendar year for plots more than 2 yards.

According to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff, only residents may now apply for membership. Nonresidents may continue to utilize the garden as guests of UVA residents or Nature Village, which, according to the Nature Village website, is a multidisciplinary group of University Village that volunteers and focuses on campus sustainability.

Nicole Vital, a nonresident gardener, said the University Village Garden sent an email to the Garden Committee including information about the proposed change, explaining that nonresident participation in the garden may lead to campus liability issues and that nonresidents are not included in the code of student conduct.

Esther Ramer, a board member of the Village Resident Association, or VRA, an association that helps raise funds and advocates for UVA residents, said in an email that the policy prioritizes garden access for village residents.

According to Suma Karanam, a member of the Garden Committee and a former UVA resident, in the past, nonresidents could work with an informal cap of roughly 20 percent of the plots available in the garden, and approximately 20 to 30 plots were left empty and available for use the last term.

According to Karanam, 14 gardeners including herself are being asked to leave the garden by the end of the month. Karanam said the gardeners and the Garden Committee were not involved in making the decision regarding this change and that a “good number” of gardeners were against the new rule.

“We understand that this decision will impact several of our gardeners. However, our goal is to be able to offer all UVA residents a plot in this garden, which is intended to serve our UVA residents,” Ratliff said.

According to the Community Garden website, plot renewals and new assignments are held in January, and this year’s renewal information has not been sent out as of yet.

Sarah Chung covers business and economy. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sarahchungdc.