Opening of the Community Garden
At the opening of the 2021/2022 academic year, first-year Tilburg University (TiU) student Lauren Fergus suggested in the "Dean's Den" the idea of creating a Community Garden (CG) on TiU's campus: a space where students and staff could meet as volunteers to take a break from the increasingly digital and hectic everyday life.
She envisioned a dedicated space on the edge of campus where flowers could bloom, vegetables could grow and members of the TiU community could collectively spend time outside for much-needed fresh air, social encounters and inspiration. In addition to communitybuilding, digital detoxing was a specific focus.
In March 2 022, Dr. David Peeters adopted the plan for a CG on behalf of the Tilburg Young Academy (TYA) and sent a written proposal to the Executive Board (EB). This was quickly endorsed by the EB and then labeled a ‘project’ by Facility Services (FS). The March 2022 proposal suggested organizing the intended users of the CG through a committee to be formed (working title: User Committee): "We will form a committee consisting of a member of TYA and a student from each school who will be responsible for the CG. We will grow flowers, fruits and vegetables in the garden, invite students and staff through promotional activities to spend time in the garden, and organize events - e.g. lectures - related to, for example, sustainability, nature and climate, digital detox, etc., that have the CG as a starting point.".
FS added several goals for the CG which tie in to the strategic plans regarding sustainability: create more biodiversity, better management of surplus rain water, become a circular campus. Also, the art work ‘Natuur-Cultuur’ by artist Roel Teeuwen Roel Teeuwen, which was previously located in the courtyard of the demolished Prisma-building had to get a new position in the exterior area of Academia. Lastly, a goal was to make the CG freely accessible and remove the last existing fences on campus.
The design of the CG was conceived with Studio Redd as the landscape architect and in conjunction with a review group of campus users and future gardeners.
The construction kicked of with the ‘tegelwippen’ event on July 6th 2023 at which the community participated by removing the existing pavement. Paulina Snijders removed the first paving tile on behalf of the EB.
This was followed by another event in September 2023 in which the community participated in the construction of the CG by building the insect hotels.
Further participation by the community in the form of building a compost heap and the actual gardening on the vegetable garden plots is anticipated.
Because of the sustainable measures incorporated into the design, the municipality has seen it fit to grant the CG a subsidy from their ‘klimaatbestendig Tilburg’ program of more than € 10.000,-.
Now the time has come to perform the official opening of the CG by Wilma de Koning on behalf of the EB on March 12th 2024. And to hand the vegetable garden plots in the CG over the User Committee in order to achieve the original goals.