Intramurals and gardening, together at last
Innovative summer program at Purdue University Calumet helped beautify the campus
Intramural gardening? Why not? That’s what Matt Dudzik, Sports Coordinator in the department of Intramural Sports at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana, thought during his commute home one day.
“The goal of our intramural program is to get as many students, faculty and staff involved as possible. We have a diverse population on our campus, so we need a diverse intramural program to meet those needs,” he said.
“The idea for intramural gardening just popped into my head. I was driving home from work one day, passing by a couple of empty lots, and I wondered why the city doesn’t do some type of landscaping on those lots to make them look presentable. I thought maybe we could do a gardening intramural on campus, and if it went well, we could eventually expand into the surrounding communities, planting our intramural gardens on those empty lots.
“I met with the head of the grounds, John Bachmann, and we mapped out the rules and location. The planting area was in an open field that will become student housing in two years. Since we had to wait until the end of the frost, this event took place after the school year. We ended up with 13 participants, made up mostly of faculty and staff.”
Participants were not allowed to plant vegetables, due to the deer that live nearby, but they were otherwise free to design and plant whatever they wanted within a 10x10 area. Each team was given a budget, vouchers to a local nursery, a timeline, and access to shovels and water.
Three judges from the grounds department determined a winner based on several factors, including creativity, use of space, and ability to meet the judging deadline and budget.
“Next summer, since we won’t have the field to plant on, the grounds department will be allowing the intramural gardening participants to use planters located throughout campus. This will make the program more visible to all students, faculty and staff,” Dudzik said.
Dudzik is thinking about how he can encourage sustainability principles as the program expands, perhaps by rewarding the use of native plants that would require less watering.
“We are definitely going to look into making the program more sustainable,” he said. “Going green is something we can all do a better job of each day.”
What does your campus recreation department do to promote sustainability? Email Katherine Otten your best green practices, and look for highlights in future issues of the NIRSA Know.