The Frederick and Ophelia Tate Ogier Gardens is the epicenter of innovative environmental and public health programming. Located on an acre, these organic gardens feature row crops, a wide variety of fruit trees, raised vegetable beds, and peaceful sitting areas for students to relax. Part of the UNF Health Promotion Department, the Ogier Gardens’ programs educate about nutrition, as well as the linkages between environmental, mental, and public health. Through the “Healthy Osprey Initiative,” Health Promotion champions a healthy lifestyle and improves student retention. The Ogier Gardens embody this initiative in multiple ways. The Gardens produce organic herbs, vegetables, fruits, sprouts, and mushrooms all year, also exposing the public to uncommon vegetables that are easy to grow and consume. Through a myriad of volunteer opportunities, workshops, and special events, students are introduced to how food is grown from seed to harvest, and they are encouraged to choose nutritious diets composed of organic, local, and seasonal foods. Produce cultivated by student staff and volunteers is sold to UNF’s Osprey Cafe and given away to students and volunteers. Students can “Adopt-A-Bed,” which gives them the opportunity to experiment growing their own food at no additional cost.
The seed for what has become the Ogier Gardens began as a student initiative in 2009 with a small but diverse garden located on a little parcel of land on the west side of campus. The “Osprey Garden” was originally managed by Campus Recreation and exclusively emphasized organic methods with a focus on environmental impacts and sustainability. This tradition continues. Due to phenomenal interest from UNF students and staff as well as financial support from alumnus Bruce Ogier, the garden grew exponentially in 2012, when it was relocated to its present location and renamed “The Frederick and Ophelia Tate Ogier Gardens." Moving towards a demonstration site for agroecology, the Ogier Gardens collects water in rain barrels, composts, and educates on the importance of biodiversity, local food, and social justice in the food system. A new collaboration with our on-campus food pantry, Lend-A-Wing, aims to grow and deliver produce from the Ogier Gardens to address student food insecurity.