By Wade Faast
Each morning student bio gardener Gregory Dugay takes care of the compost garden beds in the community commons at CNM main campus, he said.
Dugay cares for the six garden beds containing a variety of plants from ornamental flowers like the primrose, to eggplants and basil that are harvested for the culinary program, he said.
CNM groups applied to adopt a bed in early 2016 and had to demonstrate how the beds could be tied into their curriculum, Dugay said.
The groups that adopt the beds are responsible for the majority of the maintenance, planting, and upkeep, he said.
Dugay takes care of the daily chores such as managing the irrigation, pruning the plants and being vigilant for any issues that may arise, he said.
“Gardening is a process of observing and applying common sense to solve problems,” he said.
Instead of using harmful pesticides with neurotoxins, the garden beds are organic and use deterrents such as soap products to keep insects and pests away, Dugay said.
One of the garden beds uses a traditional Native American planting method known as the three sisters method; planting corn, pinto beans and squash together, he said.
The corn grows tall and straight, the pinto beans then grow up the stalks of the corn and the squash provides ground cover to limit water loss through evaporation, he said.
The CNM culinary program has several beds they adopted through the program, they are able to harvest basil, eggplants, culinary sage, kale and other fresh produce from the gardens to help increase their fresh organic options, he said.
CNM liberal arts student Nereyda Ruiz stopped by the garden beds to smell the fresh produce and get some advice from Dugay, she said.
“I enjoy smelling the fresh plants on campus, it is nice to have a connection to nature,” Ruiz said.
Dugay started as the student bio gardener in June, and a good day is when he goes home covered in sweat with dirt under his fingernails, he said.
Majoring in biology, Dugay intends to complete his associates degree here at CNM and transfer to UNM for a bachelors degree and work in environmental planning and design.
Working as a bio gardener gives Dugay valuable hands on experience maintaining a garden in an arid climate, he said.
If groups are interested in adopting a garden bed they should contact the compost to garden committee, Campus as a Living Lab Sustainability Manager Molly Blomhoefer said.
Students groups need to have a faculty adviser to adopt a garden bed, she said.