The University of North Florida will host its inaugural “Taste of the Ogier Gardens” fundraiser noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, on the grounds of the Fredrick and Ophelia Tate Ogier Gardens, located behind Lot 18 near the north campus entrance.
The Jacksonville community will have the opportunity to experience the delights of the garden, while learning the value of growing and preparing their own food. Dennis Chan, executive chef and owner of Blue Bamboo Restaurant, will make lunch during the fund-raising event using Ogier Gardens produce.
Located on an acre, Ogier Gardens feature row crops, a wide variety of fruit trees, raised vegetable beds and peaceful sitting areas for students to relax. The Gardens began as a student initiative in 2009 with a garden located on a small parcel of land on the west side of campus. The Gardens grew exponentially in 2012, when it was relocated to its present location and renamed the Frederick and Ophelia Tate Ogier Gardens.
Students can Adopt-A-Bed, which is a program that gives them the opportunity to experiment growing their own food at no additional cost. Produce cultivated by student staff and volunteers is sold to UNF’s Osprey Café and is given away to students and volunteers. The Lend-A-Green initiative is a collaboration with the University’s campus food pantry, the Lend-A-Wing, where fresh produce from the Gardens is distributed to address student food insecurity.
“We’re the only university in Florida with this type of program. Our program is unique in that we’re here primarily for the health of the students,” said Ogier Gardens Coordinator Kevin Anderson, who noted that free, interactive workshops are offered monthly to the community.
The Gardens also gives students the chance to get their hands dirty and learn something new. “The Ogier Gardens provide students with an opportunity for an out-of-the-classroom experience like nothing else,” said Bruce Ogier, the Garden’s biggest supporter. “Students from many different majors come to volunteer their time … to learn about sustainable gardening, healthy eating, the nutritional value of food and to develop knowledge and skills to be a responsible food citizen throughout their lives.”
With financial support, Ogier Gardens hope to expand its offerings over the next few years to include student enrichment initiatives, program expansion projects, equipment replacement, staff funding, educational outreach opportunities and more.
Tickets for the event, sponsored by Media Made Fresh, are $50 per person and must be purchased in advance. For individuals and corporations, a range of sponsorship packages are available. To purchase tickets, visit the event registration page. For more information about the event, contact Kevin Anderson at (904) 620-1570.
The Fredrick and Ophelia Tate Ogier Gardens’ mission is to influence future generations and positively impact their personal philosophies surrounding food justice issues, the importance of organic produce, as well as public health and horticulture and pennaculture techniques.
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.