08:08 AM

UHD Community Rallies to Restore Campus Garden after Recent Flood

Bayou floods banks below South Deck.

The view from the South Deck after Monday night's severe flooding.

Torrential rains and severe thunderstorms pummeled the Greater Houston area Monday evening into Tuesday morning, causing severe flash flooding in many parts of the city. Some parts of the city received more than 11 inches of rain in less than nine hours, and the Houston Chronicle reported the total rainfall at 162 billion gallons - enough to fill the Astrodome 500 times over.

The area surrounding the UHD campus experienced serious flooding, as the waters of the Buffalo Bayou rose well above the banks. The receding waters completely washed away the recently restored UHD Sustainable Community Garden in Johnny Goyen Park, to the great disappointment of the students, faculty and alumni who dedicated their time and efforts to planting and pruning the garden.

"We were just devastated to see there was nothing left," said UHD Garden Club president, Amanda Howard.

The UHD Sustainable Community Garden, founded in 2009 by a memorandum of understanding with the City of Houston Parks and Recreation department, is a hub of community collaboration and teaching - providing food for the hungry, teaching community members the basics of gardening, and hosting research experiments in plant biology.

In January, Howard, an environmental biosciences scholar, led the Garden Club in weeding and replanting the overgrown garden, with help from the organization's faculty advisor, Natural Science department chair Lisa Morano.

The UHD Garden Club and other volunteers plotted fruits, vegetables and companion plants to attract beneficial insects and deter unwelcome ones. Students and instructors from the College of Sciences and Technology recently built an automated, solar-powered irrigation system. The planting strategy and tools, along with the use of organic pet control and mindful tending, has enabled the garden to yield hundreds of pounds of food, which the students donate to Target Hunger, a local nonprofit.

"We just planted our first crop in April, and bagged our first harvest for Target Hunger last week," Howard said. "We celebrated by inviting the provost to brunch. We were so excited to move it to the next level."

The UHD community is eager to rebuild. Already, the University has established a fund to collect contributions for purchasing new materials, which Howard anticipates will cost upwards of $3000.

Students, alumni and community members responded on social media to offer words of encouragement, offer supplies and volunteer labor. The Garden Club has plans to begin clean up and planning as early as Saturday.

"As Gators, we don't give up," said UHD Garden Club vice president Heather Strange. "Small letdowns will not deter us. We take these challenges as a catalyst toward improvement. I'm confident the garden will come back bigger and better than before."

If you are interested in making a gift to support the restoration of the UHD Sustainable Community Garden, please visit the UHD Giving page, and select "UHD Sustainable Garden Project" from the designation drop-down menu.

Community members interested in volunteering or making other non-monetary contributions should contact the UHD Garden Club at uhdgardenclub@yahoo.com.