Andie Davis has a passion for plants that can be traced back to early high school. Now, her passion has carried into college, inspiring the sophomore to join the UNLV Community Garden as an intern in 2019 and work her way up to the community garden coordinator just a year later.
She knew the garden was a wonderful opportunity to bring campus closer together, so she set off on a mission to make this happen when in-person classes resumed in 2021.
“With relaunching the community garden, my goal was to bring the word ‘community’ back into the name.”
The UNLV Campus Community Garden is made up of 41 garden beds open to anyone in groups of four on campus, from registered student organizations to faculty, for the school year. The garden welcomes everyone — even those who lack a “green thumb” — as each group is provided with the information needed to make their gardens grow. The members are then welcome to take their food home and enjoy their hard work once the plants are grown.
Two things stood out to Davis the most when she started her new role in 2020: the number of beds left unclaimed throughout the year and that UNLV Food Pantry didn’t have any fresh produce. This struck a lightbulb for Davis and soon found herself on a call with CSUN President Caren Royce Yap and Vice President Abe Lugo to figure out how she could help.
“My first project with Caren and Abe was planting 15 unreserved garden beds for the UNLV Food Pantry, back in October 2021,” Davis said. “We were able to donate so much food to the food pantry that we had enough left over to donate to other organizations like Solidarity Fridge, making more of an impact in the community.”
Her partnership with the pantry hasn’t stopped and now regularly provides fresh food to the non-profit organization. Other members of the garden were inspired to donate what they’ve grown as well.
With the success of the fall semester in the review mirror and spring semester on the horizon, she raised the question of how she could get the community involved again. This inspired her to coordinate an Earth Day event to provide workshops that would better educate those on gardening and bring awareness to local community organizations and other UNLV RSOs.
“The previous Earth Day events on campus were nice, but I wanted to bring in something more impactful and had more implications to celebrate year-round than just one day.”
The turnout was much bigger than expected, bringing in more people and groups than she anticipated, including organizations such as the Forest Service Department of Agriculture, UNLV Wildlife Society, Climate Action Nevada, and many student organizations.
Though she did all of this out of her own passion to create a better community, her efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Yap and Lugo presented Davis with the first-ever Rebel Award of Excellence at the 2021 Rebel Awards Ceremony. This award recognized Davis for her accomplishments made with both the garden and community.
“Andie has collaborated with CSUN and student organizations to generate volunteer opportunities, engaging events, and products for the food pantry,” former CSUN president Caren Yap said. “She has put all her heart and effort into bringing the garden back to life and there was no one more deserving of such an honor!”
Anyone on campus is welcome to join the community garden, and applications for a garden bed will open up again this fall. Learn how you can sign up and stay up to date with the Community Garden here.