How Does UCR Garden Grow? Solar Power.

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The University of California, Riverside, recently debuted a new community garden on its campus. And one of its main components involves solar power.

The R’Garden, as it’s called, offers plots of land to university and community groups and will have an educational area for students to visit on field trips. The garden’s irrigation system is powered by solar energy, courtesy of a mobile trailer designed by students from the university’s Bourns College of Engineering. The 18-foot-long trailer, paid for by UC Riverside’s Green Campus Action Plan, collects energy through solar panels, and that energy is stored in rechargeable DC batteries. During the recent dedication ceremony for the garden, the solar trailer powered the audio system.

The garden was jumpstarted in 2008 when Chancellor Timothy White agreed to earmark more than $145,000 for its development. White will continue funding for the garden—developed by campus and community organizations—for another three years. Garden organizers also have recently received three grants, which will fund the outdoor classroom, a compost heap and a compost toilet.

Many groups will be involved in tending and using the garden. Cultivate R’Space, which is a university research organization, will expand its student seminar, Urban Garden, to two quarters of the school year and will focus on urban garden projects. Other groups that participated in the opening of the garden were the Botany and Entomology Student Association, Sustainable UCR, Real Food Challenge, Riverside County Master Gardener, Gates Cactus & Succulent Society, Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District, and the Child Leader Project.

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