USG approves funds to revive Parkside Garden, USC’s on-campus learning garden

The garden fell into disrepair during the pandemic, and students are now working to bring it back to life.

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USC’s Undergraduate Student Government approved $3,489.56 in funding Tuesday evening for the Parkside Garden Restoration Project, which will be led by the SC Garden Club.

“The Parkside Garden is the only on-campus student-run community learning garden,” said Aidan Leitch, the operations lead for the SC Garden Club. “It’s really the only opportunity for students on-campus to get their hands in some soil and really learn about gardening.”

The SC Garden Club cited that the garden’s availability provides many benefits to the USC community, as it serves as composting facility, a green space for leisure and a source of gardening programming which has mental and physical health benefits. SC Garden Club’s funding request included money for tools, plant support, compost, pest control, labeling and storage.

“All of these tools that we’re requesting have been thought through a lot by the Garden Club E-Board,” said Olivia Heffernan, the president of the SC Garden Club and senior environmental studies major. “They’re what we think is necessary to support this space for years to come.”

The SC Garden Club was founded to oversee the care and maintenance of the garden, but because students weren’t able to access the space during much of the pandemic, the garden fell into disrepair, Leitch said.

“Since being back, it’s been a lot of work to revive the garden,” Leitch, a junior majoring mechanical engineering, said. “It’s taken a lot of cost and a lot of effort, and it’s more than the Garden Club has been able to foot, which is why we are looking for funding to help fill in the gaps and really bring it back to life.”

The club has had issues with receiving funding in the past, expressing frustration at USG’s decision to cut the Green Engagement Fund this August, which according to the club, represented its one source of potential funding at the time.

On Tuesday, USG also passed new guidelines for receiving legislative funding, and the Garden Club’s approved funding request was the first to make use of the update.

“The essential goal … of this is just to make sure that we have a clear, scaled-up process with no ambiguity of what accessing legislative funds looks like,” said USG vice president Nivea Krishnan, a junior majoring in public policy and economics. “We’re hoping that this will increase support of advocacy efforts within our division.”

Since returning to campus after the pandemic, the SC Garden Club has been forced to rely on supplies left from previous years or have members pay out-of-pocket for tools, they said. According to Leitch, the items on the budget as seemingly small as garden shears make a difference.

“We’ve only had one pair [of shears] for the entire garden that we’ve kind of been sharing, so it’s going to be huge that we can do weeding and pruning on multiple plants at a time,” said Leitch.