What is Wild Roots?
Nothing says springtime like fresh produce — there is something about warm weather that just makes you crave crisp fresh fruits and veggies. At Northwestern, Wild Roots is taking full advantage of nature’s bounty by planting and harvesting produce all year round in a student-run garden next to Norris. According to co-president Renee Wellman, “you name it, we grow it.” Since 2009, they have planted and harvested a wide variety of vegetables and herbs ranging from eggplants to lavender that serve Campus Kitchens, our dining halls and the restaurants in Norris. The peppers at Frontera? Yep, those often come from Wild Roots’ garden, completely cultivated by students. On average, Wild Roots produces an incredible 250 pounds of produce serving the Northwestern community each season.
Typically, Wild Roots aims to get seeds in the ground at the very beginning of spring quarter. Due to unusually cold temperatures this spring, however, the schedule was pushed back slightly and everything will be planted this month. Throughout the year, different plants are harvested as they mature, so be sure to keep an eye out for emails about work days throughout the spring and early fall. The summer is an especially busy time for harvesting — two of the Wild Roots co-presidents will be remaining on campus this summer to look after the gardens. The last items are harvested in early October.
How Can Students Get Involved?
In the fall and spring, Wild Roots holds weekly work days where students of any skill level can come to work in the garden. Even those unfamiliar with gardening or agriculture are encouraged to attend — two Wild Roots exec members focus solely on educating novices on sustainability, plant placement, composting and more. After working the crops, students can sample ripe produce straight from the garden, the ultimate farm to table experience. Join the Wild Roots listserv or check out their Facebook page for information about their work day schedule throughout the year.