2023-Year in Review

2023-Year in Review
Shasta Daisy with GRIT Garden and hoop house in background

This year, the GRIT Garden Donated 4,019.2 pounds of produce to the UVU Care hub. That number is not all the produce we grew, but all the produce that was fit for human consumption. Any produce that wasn’t as good was either composted in the garden or some was given to the animals in the biology department as a special treat.

Fresh Food Fridays were a huge success. The GRIT Garden and UVU Care hub partnered with Community Action Services and the food pantry, hosting nine Fresh Food Friday events during the summer and fall semesters. Together, we were able to help 654 unique students and distribute 6,093 pounds of produce. Those students could get an average of 9.3 pounds of fresh produce over the two semesters.

Volunteers posing in front of the hoop house

The GRIT Garden would not be able to grow without our wonderful volunteers. This year, we had over 500 volunteers from over ten on-campus partnerships, including four student clubs, five departments, and five service-learning classes. The countless hours of work paid off this year. We expanded our active growing space by a quarter and doubled the size of our pollinator sanctuary. Additionally, we grew eight more species of vegetables than the year before, not counting the vegetables we already had.

Patty pan squash and cherry tomatoes after harvesting.

Speaking of vegetables, our number one producing crop was far and away summer squash. This included zucchini and patty pan squashes, which accounted for 984.7 pounds of the produce we grew. Some of the squashes we harvested were the size of small children. The care hub provided amazing recipe ideas for eating so many squashes, including ratatouille and pizzas using the squash as a crust.

First tomatoes of the season.

Tomatoes were the second most vigorous producer in the garden, with a shocking 669.3 pounds donated to the food pantry. We are sure we grew more than that, but they may have been eaten before leaving the garden. We grew eight varieties of tomatoes: three were cherry/plumb varieties, one heirloom variety, and the remaining four were all-purpose varieties. From an informal survey of students at FFF, salsa, and tomato salads were the most popular recipes.

Aspen holding our huge patty pan squash.

The most unique crops we grew this year were garlic scapes and okra. Garlic scapes have a unique, strong flavor in pestos and sauces. While the scapes were only offered during one Fresh Food Friday, they were gone quickly. Okra is in the mallow family and produces seed pods that are almost pepper-like in shape. They are used a lot in southern cooking and are an acquired taste. At every fresh food Friday the okra was always one of the first things to go. Okra isn’t always available at local grocery stores, so everyone was excited about having access to it.

Tiny Okra left over after Fresh Food Fridays

The GRIT Garden would like to extend a special thanks to the College of Science, the Department of Biology, UVU Facilities, UVU Grounds, CARE Hub, Community Action Services and Food Bank, Jess Dean Rogers, Austin Harvey, and Erik Sargent.

Two carrots growing together in the shape of a heart.

Thank you so much to everyone who supported the GRIT Garden this year! We could not have done it without you and are looking forward to 2024.