While Metro Jacksonville was attending the Green Lion Festival at Aardwolf Brewery this year we ran into two representatives from University of North Florida's Osprey Gardens project. Intrigued by the magical goodness of an organic teaching garden, we recently visited on Volunteer Friday and found a place almost Tolkien like! Join us after the jump for some of the great images.
Established in 2009, the UNF Organic Garden began as a student initiative and was made possible by a generous donation from Bruce Ogier. What began with six raised beds next to the Wildlife Sanctuary has grew into fifteen over the spring of 2012. In the Fall of 2012, our little garden expanded into a diverse, half-acre production on the north side of campus.
The Osprey Gardens serves as a living laboratory for students to explore multiple disciplines. Programs strive to promote student health and wellness through outdoor recreation & experiential learning. UNF will serve as a model for other non-land grant universities incorporating experiential learning on farms or with gardens.
An incredible team of student staff & volunteers maintain the Osprey Gardens. Produce cultivated by student staff is presently being sold to the Osprey Café and at UNF’s Market Day
Ryan Holm and Jesse Buckels of the Ogier Gardens
Gardener, Jesse Buckels
Gardener, Ryan Holm
One of the cooler gardening techniques used at the Gardens is the practice of Companion Planting or planting companion species together. Companions help each other grow—Tall plants, for example, provide shade for sun-sensitive shorter plants. They use garden space efficiently—Vining plants cover the ground, upright plants grow up. Two plants in one patch. The practice also helps prevent pest problems—Plants like onions repel some pests. Other plants can lure pests away from more desirable plants. Finally, they attract beneficial insects—Every successful garden needs plants that attract the predators of pests.
In order to attract bees and other pollinators, the gardeners at the Ogier Gardens plant flowering botanicals at the end of each of the vegetable rows. Drawn in by the color and fragrance, pollination is guaranteed for all of the plants in the beds.
For a pretty good list of companion plant species and useful weeds check out this page!