All posts by BioGrounds

Cheers to Bats!

Do you love eating mangoes, peaches, dates, cashews, or bananas? Do you like drinking Margaritas? Do you prefer eating organic food? If so, you should thank bats. Many of our most important and delicious foods and drinks come from bat-dependent plants. Approximately 20 percent of fruit sold comes from trees or shrubs that rely on bats in the wild (Dr. Tuttle, 2011). These creatures help us maintain a biodiverse ecosystem by pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds in rainforests and deserts. The seeds of more than 110 plant species are dispersed and pollinated by bats, producing important food and drinks for us, including 72 plant species that humans use to produce medicine. In addition, 66 plant species produce timber, 29 are used to fabricate fiber and cordage, 25 are needed to create dyes, 19 are used to make tannins, and 22 are rendered into animal feed (Bureau of Land Management). Therefore, bats are critical in supporting the world’s ecosystem, maintaining a healthy environment, and contributing to the success of human economies.

Bats have helped foster human economies around the world. Even in commercial orchards many fruit trees rely on bat pollinators. For example, durian fruit, the king of Asian fruits, would not have a market worth a billion dollars annually if the population of its bat pollinators decreased, thereby causing a decline in the health of the fruit’s population.  In addition to its economic contribution, bats are also essential to the production of other fruit trees that are important to the diet of people in specific cultures. In East Africa, the fruit from the Baobab Tree, a plant recognized as the African Tree of Life due to the variety of wildlife that depend of it for food and shelter, contains six times as much vitamin C as oranges, twice as much calcium as milk, and is rich in other vitamins and antioxidants (Dr. Tuttle, 2011). The nutritional content of this tree has the potential to turn into a billion dollar yearly crop production market. Lastly, with the help of these creatures, people can produce tequila liquor from the saguaro and organ pipe cactus found from the southwestern United States to southern Peru. Those who are fans of Margaritas should cheers to bats next time they have the chance.

In addition to bat’s contribution towards enhancing biodiversity, bats also help maintain our environment’s health by providing ecosystem services known as “biological control”. Bats are predators of many natural pests, such as the damaging corn earworm and armyworm moths that destroy crop fields. In San Antonio, Texas, a colony of 20 million free-tailed bats can consume 200 tons of insects nightly, which prevents almost a trillion eggs from being laid each night. As a result, cotton growers are able to save close to a million dollars annually from this reduction in spend on pesticides (Dr. Tuttle, 2011). Bats are the most effective form of natural pest control, saving both agricultural production and money from crop losses and pesticides. Aside from this cost reduction, using fewer pesticides in crops improves the health and quality of the production, allowing for the production of organic food. Furthermore, decreasing the use of pesticides reduces chemical pollution in our environment that harms other living organisms.

Restoring bat populations can solve many economic, environmental, and health issues. The value of these creatures has been erroneously depreciated due to sensational media stories and stereotypes about correlating bats with vampires and diseases. This amazing animal is among our planet’s least understood or appreciated, and is rapidly becoming endangered. Bats are the heroes behind a veil of misconception and awareness must be raised in order to conserve these valuable mammals.

A global campaign has taken the initiative to promote conservation, research and education by inaugurating The Year of the Bat. Participate and learn more about the conservation of the world’s only flying mammal by testing your knowledge in the following bat quiz:


Bat Conservation Publisher. “get involved.” year of the bat 2011-2012.

Bat Conservation Publisher. “Focus: Bats and Ecosystem Services.” bats and biodiversity.

Buddenhagen, Ivan W. 2008. “Bats and Disappearing Wild Bananas”. BATS Magazine.

Turttle, Dr. Merlin D. 2011. “Bats as Invaluable Allies.” .

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. “Bats: Essential to Healthy Ecosystems.” Cave Ecosystems: Bats and Caves. 

Post by Michelle S. Chen, Fourth-Year, Architecture

Bats: Myths vs. Facts – Stereotypes of the Flying Mice

Bats are one of the most interesting animals you learn about as a child. They sleep during the day, and are active at night. They are the only mammals that capable of sustained flight, because of their webbed wings. Also some consider them to have the appearance of a flying rodent. Needless to say they are interesting creatures with a peculiar look.  Due to the fact that they are mysterious, myths and folklores have developed around bats. Most of these myths display bats in a negative and harmful light, while some have inspired fictional superheroes like the popular figure Batman. Regardless they are a part of popular culture, and because of this it is important we distinguish which is fact and which is fallacy surrounding these fascinating mammals.

Question #1- Are Bats Blind?

If you answered True, unfortunately you were wrong. Bats can see very well, some bats can see up to 20 times better than us. Mega Chiroptera bats have very large eyes that enable them to see fruits and flowers in the dark. It is true however that many bats use echolocation as their choice of finding prey and navigating in the dark. Echolocation is the use of sound waves and echoes to determine where objects are in space. Bats have adapted large ears, which help them in this process.

Question #2- Do Vampire Bats really exist?

This one is actually true. There are 3 species out of the thousands that do have a blood diet. These species weigh less than 50 grams and live in Central and South America, and they do not suck blood, instead they make a small incision with their razor sharp teeth on a sleeping animal and then lap up the blood. The animal usually doesn’t even wake up or feel the bite.

Question #3- Are all bats dirty and carry rabies?

The answer to this one is definitely No. Bats are generally very clean animals. They groom themselves daily along with inverting or hanging right side up to avoid soiling on themselves. Even though they are able to contract rabies, less than half of 1% of all species actually has rabies. In fact, you are more likely to contract rabies from an unvaccinated dog or cat.

Misconceptions about bats often lead to fear or discomfort around them. Myths can be detrimental to their reputation, and even the true facts can be misleading. Bats are extremely beneficial to the environment all around the world. They perform vital ecological roles by pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds. Bats also are important, because they consume insect pests, reducing the need for pesticides.


Post by Sam Odi, Second-Year, Economics

Bat House

People may wonder why are bat houses important?

Here are the main reasons. Bats will eat thousands of insects. One bat can eat thousands on insects in one night. Not many insects leads to less pesticides, which is good for the environment. By providing them a home, they will stay out of our homes. It provides bats with a secure home, which would help with the population decrease.

Here are the steps to building a bat house:

  1. Figure out what types of bats are around your area
  2. Pick the size of the house
  3. Decide on installation method
  4. BUILD!
  5. Study some guidelines for locations and the install

What types of bats are around Charlottesville?

According to wildlife information, there are three species of bat in this area. They are silver haired bat, eastern red bat, and evening bat:

Silver haired bat: medium-sized

  • About 3 ¾ to 4 5/8 inches long
  • Brownish-black silver topped fur


Eastern Red Bat: medium-sized

  • About 3 ½ to 4 ¾ inches long
  • Bright red to rusty red with long silky fur


Evening Bat: small sized

  • About 75-105 mm long
  • Brown with short, sparse, dull brown fur


Bat houses range in size.

There are single chamber and four-chamber nurseries.


Installation Methods

Bat houses have two ways of installation. They can be mounted to the building or put on posts. The posts can be either wooden or steel. Single chamber houses do not work well on posts. Multi-chamber works better because they are more thermally stable.

BUILD Phase:

Our bat group decided to build our own bat house.

The steps include:

  1. Measure and cut plywood into 3 pieces with the following dimensions: 26 ½” x 24”     16 ½” x 24”     5” x 24”


2. Cut grooves on the landing area, 1/32” to 1/16” deep


3. Apply two coats of water-based stain




4. Attach furring strips to the back
5. Attach Roof
6. Paint: The color for the bat house depends on the location. Virginia is in an area with temperatures around 85 to 95 degrees, so dark or medium shade of paint is the best choice.



When installing bat houses here are some guidelines to pick the right location:

  • sunny location on the East or the South side
  • needs at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight
  • should not be lit by bright lights, such as lights from utility poles
  • better if located along forest or water edges
  • the best place is in areas where there is a diverse habitat abundant with mixture of varied agriculture used and natural vegetation.
  • bat house should be at least 10 feet above the ground
  • it is recommended to test the bat house before putting up more than 3 houses


We are thinking of installing the bat house in the vicinity of the President’s House and Campbell Hall (Architecture School). Near the President’s House there are many tall trees and diversity of ecosystem.



Another possibility is putting the bat house in the forest of trees beside Campbell Hall or in the forest of trees along the way up the hill to the side of Campbell Hall.




Photo Credits

Post by Arisa Chentaphun, Fourth-Year, Architecture

Identifying Bat-Friendly Locations on the Grounds Based on Foraging properties

Spring is finally here and hopefully, we will soon be seeing more bats around Grounds. In order to identify where we can find bats, the challenge is to identify where bats are most likely to be found on Grounds. It’s most likely that we have to look for them in the locations that contain natural elements that support bats. As close as we could get is to learn more about specific features of urban landscape for bats, and go from there. By being able to identify these bat-friendly landscapes, we can further seek to protect, maintain and enhance these landscapes, which are likely to possess rich ecological value. The biodiverse multi-functional green infrastructure that attracts bats will also support other wildlife and provide a wide range of ecosystem services.

Research on urban landscape for bats gives us a good starting point for looking at specific locations on Grounds. According to the book, Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity by Bat Conservation Trust in the UK, landscapes can be divided into three major themes based on three main activities that bats do. The book describes bats as “long-lived, social animals that use the landscape intensively for foraging, roosting and commuting”(Gunnell & Williams 2012).

In this blog, we will focus on the aspects of landscapes that provide hunting grounds or foraging habitats. Foraging is an important aspect when considering a particular landscape. Because bats feed on insects, which in turn are supported by vegetation, the landscapes that are rich in native vegetation are likely to support higher diversity of bats and wildlife (Gunnell & Williams 2012).

After surveying around the Grounds to assess certain elements based upon the guidelines in the book, Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity by Gunnell and Dr. Williams, we came up with a set of locations that might serve as the sites for further studies about bats on the Grounds. The locations are arranged based upon specific landscape elements they exhibits as following:


The quiet places such as the area around the Pavillion and gardens along the serpentine walls have a wide range of trees, flowers and plants. These mixtures of natural elements attract a diversity of insects, the food resource that in turn sustains bats.

Dry stone walls

The serpentine walls surrounding the UVa. Pavillion can create valuable habitats and micro-climates that benefit bats during the summer. Lichens, mosses and other plants are likely to be found along the serpentine walls where they provide a shelter area for insects.


Some small woodlands with mature trees can be found around the Grounds. These places can also provide hunting ground for bats.

Open habitats

The recreational areas and grass field beside Perry-Fishburne Tennis Courts (located in the area known as the Dell) can be considered as a small open habitat that has potential to support bats. The place has a range of trees and shrubs and flowers along a creek that attracts insects.


Freshwater is an important resource for bats as they need to drink from open water. In addition, some species also forage on emerging insects. The rain garden in the Dell area (near Lambeth House) and the Meadow Creek, which brings water from the top of Observatory Hill to the rain garden provides a perfect wetland. There are also native grasses and wildflowers along the creek.

In our next post, we will discuss the way that we are planning to accommodate bats around Grounds.

Works cited:

Gunnell, K., Grant, G. and Williams, C. 2012.

Landscape and urban design for bats and biodiversity. Bat Conservation Trust

Post by Peeratham Techapalokul, Fourth-Year, Interdisciplinary Major in Computer Science

Traffic in the Sky, Unnoticed

Yet another semester has quickly passed beneath our consciousness in the transient few years of our time at UVa.  Little do we know, another fleeting force is at work this springtime in Charlottesville.  While we rest at night, it discreetly flaps by our windows; indeed, the city comes alive at night.  Springtime calls for traffic in the sky as migratory birds pass by and stop to rest on our rooftops, in our trees, unseen and above our night vision.

Distractions of the modern world unfortunately prevent humans from fully being able to appreciate our feathered friends’ swift calls.  In a city such as Charlottesville, bird migration sounds are difficult to hear, as they are often overridden by the noise of cars and other city bustle.  This speaks to the mild pressures of human growth upon the natural environment; despite city movement, bird migrations remain subdued but unaltered.

More importantly, their migration calls become muted by the conscious distractions that humans wedge between nature and ourselves.  The lifestyles humans have collectively adopted prevent us from truly being able to notice the nature surrounding us.  For instance, much of our time spent in transit, whether taking a leisurely stroll walking to class, is consumed by the distractions pulling us into our handheld electronic devices.   Walking down the road, one will inevitably pass by people staring at the screens on their phones or wearing headphones while walking.  Though these practices are socially acceptable when walking outdoors, they consume the sight and hearing senses of the person distracted by his phone, and he will inevitably miss much of the natural world surrounding him.  Practices such as listening to headphones while outdoors completely detract from one’s natural experience with the world.

Hence, bird migratory calls are an unnoticed treasure.  They surround us this spring; let us remove our headphones and appreciate music of the night.

Post by Kristen Musselman

Recommendations for Future Research

This semester, we did not have great success finding evidence of bird mortality around Charlottesville. Throughout our ‘bioblitz’ time, we were only able to site four deceased birds, two of which did not seem to have a correlation with building design. Looking forward, we have identified how our methods could be improved in the future:

  1. Better communication with facilities management staff
    • This semester we had difficulty coordinating with the staff because there were several maintenance staff that were not assigned to a specific location. This made it difficult to ask them to record and report any bird mortality sightings at our two chosen buildings
    • Future groups should try to coordinate with all staff, and possibly ask them to have a collection bin for birds that we could count, in addition to our scheduled observation times

2. Look into additional buildings that could be problems, rather than simply focusing on Campbell and Nau.

    • Some other buildings that could pose problems are: Rice Hall and some of the new dorms
Figure 1 Rice Hall, a UVA engineering school building was built in 2011. This picture displays the building’s large glass outcropping that could be detrimental to birds. Forty percent of the surface area of the building is glass.
Figure 1 Rice Hall, a UVA engineering school building was built in 2011. This picture displays the building’s large glass outcropping that could be detrimental to birds. Forty percent of the surface area of the building is glass.

We also looked into additional things that could be done at UVA to raise awareness about the issue of bird mortality. A few ideas we had included:

  1. Art Display
    • Save and use any dead birds found throughout the semester in an art display, like the Audubon Society in New York City
    • Possible locations: Campbell Hall, Downtown Mall
    • This could act as an effort to increase public awareness in the Charlottesville community.
  1. Citizen Science Program for Collection of Dead Birds
    • Create a program for UVA students to collect and report data on dead birds that they spot around Ground
    • Options: phone number for texting in pictures and information, online submission form, or iPhone application
    • Publicize this program through Facebook, science and A-school classes, tabling, and emailing listservs

Post by Kaye Thomas, Katherine Roderick, and Abby Curcio

Nature Observations

Taken at a different time of year, as the sun began to shine more often and the snow melted aware, the Hereford/O-Hill area provided us with some excellent views. Some of those views were due to the fact that, with the land being somewhat cleared around the buildings that sit high above much of central grounds, one can see the line of mountains in the distance over the tree tops. These provide for not only scenic views, but ones filled with a different perspective on how UVA Central Grounds are situated in the greater area. Though the buildings stand high, there are plenty of places along the tree line filled with nature that provide excellent views.



Next is the view from inside Runk Hall. This view is accentuated by the fact that the Hall decided to have a glass wall that allowed those using the facility to connect with nature and the Hall’s surroundings by simply looking up from their book or plate. Natural light pours in, decreasing the amount of light needed inside the Hall and increasing the visibility of the tree-lined landscape just outside.



Lastly is the last bit of nature that exists between the structures that line Alderman road. Though this area may not last much longer as UVA builds new structures along the road farther and farther down past Scott Stadium, the university should think twice before ridding of the area between the Alderman Road Residence Area and the Gooch/Dillard Residence Area. Though it is not much of a site right now, there exists a creek that is lined with trees that can and should be transformed into a nature appreciation area, a place for students to do work outside and enjoy an area not lined with brick and concrete.


Post by Griffin Boyle

The Obstacles of the Ant Life

Hello, my name is Ainsley Springer and I am a 4th year Environmental Sciences major. For my survey, I focused on collecting and identifying ants within the Brown College location. While there were several anthills around, I came into some difficulty in trying to collect them. My troubles, just to name a few, were passerby unknowingly stepping on or riding their bikes over the collection cards, squirrels stealing the ant bait (figure 1), and wasps chasing me away. While I was sitting on a bench, waiting for the ants to be lured to my baits, I wondered what kind of obstacles researchers gathering ants and even ants themselves must come across on a daily basis.

Figure 1: Squirrel that stole my cookie bait.
Figure 1: Squirrel that stole my cookie bait.

A bit of research brought me to a blog written by Amy Savage, a Ph. D. student at North Carolina State University who is working on the School of Ants Project. Her blog listed the top five challenges of studying ant in New York City. Along with security cops and cars constantly reminding her that working on medians is dangerous, she soon learned that some medians are sprayed with rat poison! This was troubling news for Savage because she uses an aspirator to collect the ants. An aspirator is basically an ant vacuum that requires you to suck air through one tube and ants go into a bottle via another tube. This means that she could have been inhaling rat poison if she hadn’t have learned of this quickly. Another obstacle for researchers is the rats and other rodents that are local to the study area. As I learned myself, squirrels and rats can constantly disturb your ant traps.

As for the ants themselves, they can have many predators beyond the pesky researchers. Ant predators include several species of caterpillars, slugs, beetles, and maggots. Their greatest enemy, however, are ants themselves. Some smaller species of ants are able to sneak their way into the nests of larger ant species and steal their food by building connecting their tunnels. Other ants actually enslave other ants to work for their colonies and often even pre-chew their food for them.

It’s hard to imagine how the lives of these tiny little ants can be so complex, but when given some thought and research, it’s hard not to appreciate all that they do.

Post by Ainsley Springer, Fourth-Year, Environmental Sciences

Cultivated Edibles at the University

My name is Ellen Choi and I am a fourth year studying Foreign Affairs and Economics. This blog post will contribute to the Edible Trees and Plants team blog by describing the history and abundance of edibles in the Pavilion Gardens.

The gardens at UVA have traditionally been associated with contemplative thinking and scholarly life. Thomas Jefferson “arranged [the University] around an open square of grass and trees”, demonstrating how central (both literally and figuratively) gardens were in relation to the character of the school. In regards to the gardens, they were restored in the 1950s. Mary Hughes, the University landscape architect, stated that the pavilion gardens were “an extension of [the pavilions and hotels]”, and as a result, it connects the pavilions to be “completely integral to the experience of the house”. Faculty residents used to have not only the garden immediately outside their pavilion, but they were also given five acres to raise vegetables and ten acres of pastures. With this no longer being the case, the Garden Club has done a fantastic job maintaining these beautiful gardens and opening them up to the public.

The West Pavilion Gardens

Pavilion Garden I is reflective of Jefferson’s period, with it formerly being bordered by rows of fruits and trees along with rectilinear beds once used for vegetable and herbs. Today, It hold shrubs and trees like the sweetgum tree whose dried up sap makes a fragrant, but bitter chewing gum. The sap is also used to add flavor to smoking tobacco. Pavilion Garden V has the more edible and useful “Albemarle Pippin” Apple Trees, one of Jefferson’s favorite apples. The ‘Albemarle Pippin’ has fruit whose flesh is greenish-white and is juicy and crisp, with a fine aroma. Garden V also contains the purple flowering Hostas, which has nutritional value. Every part of the plant is edible and with its asparagus-like taste, you could add it to flavor your salads.

Garden V: Flowering Hostas in its prime.
Garden V: Flowering Hostas in its prime.
Garden V: “Albemarle Pippin.”
Garden V: “Albemarle Pippin.”

What Pavilion Garden IX lacks in size, it makes up for it in edible abundance. Although one of the smallest gardens, Garden IX has “Albemarle Pippin” apple trees like Garden V and is lined with pomegranate shrubs. A large fig tree looks over the garden from the corner and annually provides deliciously sweet figs during the fall, while pomegranate bushes lines the serpentine walls.

Garden IX “Albemarle Pippin” Orchard.
Garden IX “Albemarle Pippin” Orchard.

The East Pavilion Gardens

A large pecan tree with seeds that have a rich, buttery flavor was planted in Pavilion Garden II in the middle of the 20th century. In the hotel garden, four types of plums grow with several crabapple trees lining the walls. Crabapples are more known for their beautiful, pink flowers, but they do produce a fruit that is about 2 inches thick. While Gardens IV and VI contain mostly decorative plants, the Rose of Sharon in Garden VIII Has edible leaves that taste like lettuce and a mild tasting, edible flower that may even lower blood pressure. This fruitful garden also contains an orchard with apples, plums, and walnuts set the style in turf parterres.

Garden VIII: Turf parterres shown. Photo from:
Garden VIII: Turf parterres shown. Photo from:

Pavilion X has a unique tree, the Kentucky Coffee, which have seeds that you can roast, grind and brew like coffee. These seeds can also be eaten like nuts and have less caffeine than regular coffee beans. You can enjoy these trees by sitting on the iron benches that are places around these beautiful trees with in the eighteenth-century styled gardens.

Garden X: Kentucky Coffee Tree.
Garden X: Kentucky Coffee Tree.

There are several other places on grounds where you can find cultivated edible plants. Fig trees located near Gilmer Hall produce the sweetest figs in the fall. With personal experience, I can tell you that they are delicious and very accessible.

Fig tree outside Gilmer Hall.
Fig tree outside Gilmer Hall.


Post by Ellen Choi, Fourth-Year, Foreign Affairs and Economics

Edible AND Educational: How Food Grown On-Grounds Could Serve in Multiple Ways

As the Edible Tree & Shrub team’s previous blog posts have pointed out, there is a unique combination of Jeffersonian history and “foodie” interests that coincides at UVA, especially in the Pavilion Gardens. While these spaces currently stand-out primarily in their botanical purpose, which is useful for garden parties and ceremonies, and a quiet place to study, the edible nature of these spaces has the potential to highlight their utilitarian history and serve as places for engaged and hands-on learning. It is with this in mind that the quantity and quality of edible trees and shrubs on-grounds could be enhanced to better facilitate our connectedness to the nature around us.

From his letters and notes about UVA grounds, the Pavilion Gardens, and his intentions for a school of botany, it is clear that Thomas Jefferson fully intended for the students of his University to obtain as deep and fundamental an appreciation for and understanding of gardening and agriculture as any other science, such as chemistry. His belief that “cultivators of the earth” are the “most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous” compelled him to stress that the University experience be rounded out with knowledge of the tended natural world, and his plans thoroughly indicate that this may have occurred in these kinds of “educational landscapes.”

Figure 1: Jefferson garden plans (Photo credit: U.Va Special Collections Library).
Figure 1: Jefferson garden plans (Photo credit: U.Va Special Collections Library).

Although we have since moved away from that vision, models of educational landscapes based on edible foods and shrubs highlight the capacity for us to respect Jefferson’s ideas. For example, apart from providing a local source of ingredients for university dining halls, the Yale Sustainable Food Project includes a large educational component that fosters “exploration and academic inquiry into food and agriculture.” Numerous conferences, weekly lecture event series, and hands-on programs allow students to learn about sustainable agriculture and its relation to the environment, health, politics, and the global economy. Its growth has led to the introduction of a sustainable agriculture concentration in Yale’s forestry school. This use of edible landscaping for educational purposes is also seen at schools such as Vassar, Wellesley, and Virginia Tech.

Figure 2: Yale Sustainable Food Project (credit:
Figure 2: Yale Sustainable Food Project (credit:

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Professor of Landscape Architecture Nancy Takahashi to discuss this concept during research for another planning class. She emphasized that by highlighting the existing edible trees and shrubs at UVA, and adding to them in spaces such as Nameless Field that were originally intended for cultivation purposes, the University would promote the establishment of spaces that educate people, so that we may “learn & be inspired  from our surroundings.” By adding to the existing food gardens that are associated with dining halls (e.g. Hereford is associated with Runk, the student garden is associated with OHill), there is opportunity to extend this to central grounds in historically-relevant manners. The Pavilion 9 garden, which currently features orchard-style landscaping and vast expanses of monoculture grass, could be used a garden for West Range Café to source food locally. A part of nameless field could similarly be designated to work with Newcomb Dining hall. The University could in turn institutionalize the academic nature of such places by affiliating them with the existing Global Sustainability minor or by creating a garden-based USEM, and by promoting STEM learning and experimentation in these spaces.  Additionally, by emphasizing Jefferson’s intentions for cultivated places on-grounds, there is great potential to expand opportunities for learning about UVa’s history.

Figure 3: Pavilion 9 garden. Photo by Katie Woodward.
Figure 3: Pavilion 9 garden. Photo by Katie Woodward.

Although, as mentioned in earlier posts, it is implausible to fully amend for the great environmental costs of dining halls by localizing food sources entirely, the sustainability role of merely demonstrative on-grounds gardens is still great. Using the Pavilion gardens as demonstrative food spaces could serve to exemplify how local food sources address environmental concerns in each of these realms. Among the environmental solutions that could be demonstrated are the use of dining hall compost as fertilizer, rainwater collection for watering, the cultivation of native produce, etc. The presence of this garden as a model for attainable and everyday green practices could encourage and solidify eco-conscious mindsets in the University community, and in turn, students might adopt more environmentally-friendly habits, passively helping the University to meet its sustainability goals.

The edible plants that exist at U.Va speak to Jefferson’s agrarian character and parallel the Charlottesville’s place as the “local food capital of the world.”  There is great potential to increase the visibility of these features on-grounds in unique, academically-relevant ways to allow the University community to fully experience such biophilic elements.

Post by Katie Woodward