Located on the southwest corner of campus, the gardens will introduce vined fruit and gourds like watermelons, pumpkins and cantaloupes. The new 1,408-square-foot patch is on a hill, so to combat erosion, these plantings will create a mat of vegetation to hold the soil together.
“We’ll be putting down straw to prevent erosion as things grow,” said Jessica Davis, the Office of Sustainability director. “We already have multiple classes wanting to help plant and get this established.”
The gardens are expected to yield other new produce in the form of corn, squash and honey. Expect this food to eventually show up at Paws’ Pantry, at the monthly Fresh Produce Market and in dishes at Tower Dining.
The tilling of the expansion marked the debut of new equipment for the Office of Campus Facility Services. Thanks to a collaboration with the sustainability office and a $12,000 Greening IUPUI grant, IUPUI grounds workers have implemented an arsenal of new electric equipment: They received two tillers, nine leaf blowers, nine weed trimmers, five chainsaws, two pole saws and two push mowers that forgo gasoline.
After a two-week tryout in November, Campus Facility Services received the equipment – and all the necessary battery packs – from Greenworks’ commercial line early this summer. The tools are also quieter and don’t vibrate as much in the staff members’ hands.
While the new tools are eco-friendly and easier on the workers, grounds program manager Jesse Beck and his team quickly realized they also allow more freedom to work. The electric equipment sounds off at less than 85 decibels, which is easier on the staff’s hearing and lets them work earlier in the morning and later in the evening if required. The zero-emissions aspect of the new equipment enables the crew to work on Knozone Action Days and in spaces where they couldn’t before.
“All of the research buildings are 100 percent fresh-air intake,” Beck explained. “Now, when you’re walking around the buildings working, you’re not putting gas fumes into the buildings.”
Clay Collins, grounds services manager, said the Greenworks equipment works great – so great, in fact, that his office is considering the purchase of two electric riding mowers.
“They perform just as well as gas-powered equipment,” he said.
New pollinator garden coming in September
The Office of Sustainability and the Office of Campus Facility Services will team up again to excavate more than 4,000 square feet of land for a pollinator garden near the Riverwalk Apartments at Michigan and Limestone streets. Volunteers will plant native flowering species Sept. 10 and 11 with the goal of attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators. The project is funded in part by a $3,000 sponsorship from Rolls-Royce. This initiative will help IUPUI with its Bee Campus USA standard.