Students broke new ground in environmental awareness, as 14 new fruit trees were recently added to the UT Orchard.
The Orchard, located at the intersection of San Jacinto and East 24th streets, was founded in spring 2010 as part of an initiative to generate environmental awareness and encourage student involvement.
Students from several environmental organizations around campus, including the Campus Environmental Center and the Division of Housing and Food Service’s Green Corps, helped plant and mulch the new trees. Fig, persimmon, lemon, kumquat and chokecherry trees were among the new varieties added to the Orchard.
According to Jennifer Hrobar, supervisor of urban forestry for the University, the new trees were chosen because of their relatively low need for maintenance and ability to grow well in the Central Texas climate.
Hrobar said planting the new trees was part of an effort for the University to maintain its status as a Tree Campus USA member — a designation awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation to schools that follow certain guidelines in managing trees on campus — requiring the University to host a service-learning project for students.
Emily Mixon, Plan II senior and director of the Campus Environmental Center, said she thinks UT’s continued involvement with Tree Campus USA is important because it raises awareness about environmental issues on campus.
“I wish more people realized the guidelines that go into planting trees on campus,” Mixon said. “I think it’s a great way to get students plugged into noticing nature in our everyday lives and being conscientious about how they use campus as a whole.”
According to Hrobar, the Orchard supervisors will grow the trees using a minimal amount of pesticides in an attempt to promote environmental sustainability.
“We don’t use many pesticides on the trees, and we use organic fertilizer,” Hrobar said. “We want anyone to be able to go out there, pick fruit and eat it, without worrying about ingesting any chemicals.”
Hunter Mangrum, environmental specialist at Division of Housing and Food Service, said he thinks allowing students to plant the trees encourages them to learn about sustainability on campus.
“I think it’s a really cool way to reach students,” Mangrum said. “It’s a very hands-on type of approach to get students involved with planting and landscaping to promote sustainability.”