Skip to main content

Greening IUPUI Grant brings campus ideas for sustainability to life

Jul 11, 2018
Two people work in a vegetable garden.
The New York Street Garden hopes to get a makeover that would improve plant production and the “classroom” experience for IUPUI students studying urban and suburban gardening.Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

Where you have a need for green and a need to feed, the Office of Sustainability Greening IUPUI Grant can help. Three of seven projects awarded funding in the spring – New York Street Garden, CKIUPUI Community Commitment and Jag Jungle – seek unique ways to combat food insecurity and teach sustainable agriculture.

“There’s the whole vibe of local food,” said Deb Ferguson, assistant director for the Office of Sustainability. “I do think that Indianapolis as a whole has had this larger food insecurity issue. There’s a lot of activity going on around the city related to that and agriculture. And there’s more and more interest of people wanting to know, ‘How do I garden?’”

New York Street Garden

The Greening IUPUI Grant will be used for an initial study in hopes of expanding the total growing area of the New York Street Garden, located directly across New York Street from the Center for Young Children, to improve vegetable, fruit and flower production. The goal is to make the existing space more welcoming as well as to provide opportunities for immersive learning, teaching how communities can work with nature to sustainably produce food. Ramadas, or open-sided shade structures, will cover the outdoor learning spaces to enhance the “classroom” experience and collect rainwater for the farm.

Description of the following video:

[Video: Panning shot of New York Street Urban Garden on IUPUI’s campus. Several crops and plants are shown during the shot. In the background, you can see IUPUI’s softball field as well as the Indianapolis skyline.]

[Words appear: IUPUI presents]


[Video: Close-up of flowers in the garden, with the Indianapolis skyline in the background, as well as Carroll Stadium (IUPUI’s soccer field.)]


[Video: Close-up of a sign in the garden that warns guests not to disturb the honeybees that can be found in the space.]


[Video: Razo and a student tear lettuce in the garden. They put pieces of the lettuce in two different buckets.]


[Video: Vincent Razo, Urban Gardens Manager with the IUPUI Office of Sustainability, appears on camera.]


Razo speaks: This garden is on the west side of campus. It’s on New York Street. It is an initiative by the Office of Sustainability. Their initiative was the DIGS initiative, which stands for Developing IUPUI’s Garden Sustainably.


[Video: Close-up of tomatoes growing in the garden. Their colors vary from green to shades of red.]


[Video: Close-up of crops.]


[Video: Wide shot of garden, showing different crops and plants, as well as flowers.]


[Video: Razo speaks on camera]


Razo speaks: All the produce from this garden goes straight to, first and foremost, to the Fresh Produce Market on campus. It goes straight to them but we have a lot of extra all the time.


[Video: Close-up of lettuce that has been picked from the garden. The lettuce is on a table, and is about to be washed and cleaned.]


[Video: Close-up of buckets that each have different kinds of lettuce in them.]


[Video: Two volunteers washing lettuce in the garden.]


[Video: Close-up of plants in the garden. Traffic on New York Street can be seen in the background.]


[Video: Razo appears on camera.]


Razo speaks: So that goes to Paw’s Pantry on campus. Whatever extra we have from there goes to our other community partners on the west side of Indy. The primary goal of the garden…


[Video: A volunteer tears lettuce in the garden. Razo can be seen in the background, also tearing lettuce.]


[Video: Razo and a student tear lettuce in the garden and put pieces into buckets.]


[Video: A volunteer dries freshly washed pieces of lettuce by shaking them in the air.]


[Video: Panning shot of garden, where several crops and plants are seen. New York Street can be seen in the background.]


[Video: Razo appears on camera.]


Razo speaks: …is to just increase engagement in our campus community. That kind of gardening is important because it’s important to expose people to being able to produce things yourself and not have to rely on everybody else for everything.


[Video: Close-up of tomatoes and other crops being grown in the garden.]


[Video: A volunteer cleans some of the fresh lettuce by spraying pieces with water.]


[Video: Panning shot of garden, with flowers in the forefront.]


[Video: Panning shot of garden, with the Indianapolis skyline in the background.]


[Video: Razo appears on camera.]


Razo speaks: The grant that we received, the Greening IUPUI Grant, is set out to double the size of the garden, and then also to construct some shade structures over the outdoor learning space in the garden and the post-harvest handling areas.


[Video: A volunteer cleans some of the fresh lettuce by spraying pieces with water.]


[Video: A volunteer takes a bucket filled with water and pours it on several plants in the garden.]


[Video: Razo appears on camera.]


[Video: Razo and a volunteer tear lettuce in the garden.]


[Video: Razo tears lettuce in the garden.]


Razo speaks: It would encourage classes to start utilizing the space more. Of course anything related to gardening and sustainability, but also hopefully more of like art, and humanities, and sciences as well.


[Words appear: IUPUI]

[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]

[Words appear:]



CKIUPUI Community Commitment

Campus Kitchen at IUPUI, with support from the grant, will improve the effectiveness of its existing partnerships on campus and in the community. How? The project, led by School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Honors College alumnus Tanjimul Alam, aims to decrease its financial and environmental costs of operation. This will be done through efforts such as reducing packaging waste and improving physical infrastructure for food prep and storage. The result of these improvements will be more food security for members of the campus and, eventually, the Indianapolis community.

Jag Jungle

The School of Science and SPEA students Megan Hill, Sarah Kilcoyne and Mary Schnippel want to add a “living” wall on campus. The grant will allow for an initial study to assess the feasibility of adding the functional, vegetative art installation to the heart of campus. Using talents from the Herron School of Art and Design, the School of Engineering and Technology, and the biology department’s urban and suburban gardening class, the art piece and working garden would showcase sustainable architecture and agriculture. As a bonus, food grown on the living wall will be donated to campus groups such as Paw’s Pantry and Campus Kitchen at IUPUI. Paid internships would also be available as part of the project.

Four additional projects receiving funds through the Greening IUPUI Grant are no less impactful, continuing to make IUPUI a welcoming and environmentally friendly campus. They will assess the campus’s overall knowledge of sustainability as well as simplify and incentivize recycling in the residence halls, teach how public transit can reduce our carbon footprint to be responsible citizens, and lower water usage.

“The nice thing was that we had a variety of topics, and a lot of them touch on some tangible things that could make a real impact on campus,” Ferguson said of the proposals they received. “The review committee loves to see things that are unique. It’s a great way for us to do these sustainability test pilots and get others to be part of that whole picture. It’s a way for us to get students involved as well as faculty and staff.”

Recharging Sustainability Literacy

University Library will conduct a survey-based assessment of IUPUI’s knowledge of sustainability and promote an increased understanding of what sustainability looks like on campus. The project will allow IUPUI to conduct a campus-wide sustainability literacy and cultural assessment for the first time. Results of the assessment will allow the university to better understand the sustainability landscape on campus and develop targeted solutions to areas of concern. 

Recycling Revolution

Recycling bins will be placed in individual rooms in residence halls. Select students will then receive a stipend to collect recyclables. The goal is to make recycling so hassle-free that it becomes easier than merely throwing items into the trash. Trash and recycling will be weighed and compared across residence halls, and the building with the best trash-to-recycling ratio will receive a pizza party. The project is led by SPEA and School of Science students Ellie Dufek, Hayley Guerrettaz and Abigail Shanahan.

JagPass: IUPUI’s Public Transit Education Program

With an eye toward both civic engagement and environmentally sustainable transportation, Niki Messmore in the Division of Student Affairs has developed a five-year program to demonstrate how to make the most of our urban location in the greenest way possible. Students will learn the ins and outs of sustainable transportation like the IndyGo bus and Pacers Bikeshare systems, gain greater understanding of how these reduce their carbon footprint, and take advantage of public transit options to attend off-campus civic and cultural events.

Dual-Flush Handles

More than 50 toilets across campus will be retrofitted with dual-flush low-flow toilet handles. The goals of the project, spearheaded by SPEA student Dylan Patterson, are to lower the amount of water used on campus and demonstrate simple ways sustainability can be improved with minimal behavior modification.

“A lot of people are probably still unaware of a sustainability office at IUPUI,” Ferguson said. “The grant process has been a great way to help promote that. It’s nice that it does open the door to get some creative ideas. It’s been especially fun to see when students get engaged with sustainability initiatives and solutions.”

Grants were awarded based on student involvement, IUPUI STARS score impact, long-term impact for IUPUI, educational impact, visibility, reasonable timeline and financial considerations. The 2017-18 grants, which awarded a total of $50,558 across all seven projects, are the eighth cycle of grants provided through the IUPUI Office of Sustainability.

More stories