The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Plant Club, students dig up new way to be involved

Plant Club, students dig up new way to be involved - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Texas A&M University-San Antonio's campus garden on Oct. 7, 2021. The garden is maintained by Plant Club and student volunteers. Photo taken by Bella Lopez

A club that began as a way for students to identify plants at a competition has blossomed into Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s campus garden. 

“It’s [the campus garden] open to anyone who wants to come and sit and have picnics,” Dr. Jose Valdez Barillas, associate professor of Biology and adviser of the club said. 

Valdez Barillas wanted a way for more students to participate and be involved in the growing campus, so they came up with a club that would focus on growing plants and other things on campus. 

The campus garden is located on half an acre behind the portables and started in 2014 as a collaboration between the Mays Center and the Plant Club. 

A greenhouse, beehives, vegetables and compost area are all located near the campus garden. 

“We’re hoping on expanding it more to be open to more activities, not only for the students to use it as a hobby but also as a curricular, so we can offer it through some courses at our own school for research,” Valdez Barillas said.

There are many herbs, fruits and vegetables growing in the garden.

Maria Contreras, a biology junior and vice president of Plant Club, said there are peppers, broccoli, kale, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce and corn growing in the garden to name a few.

The garden also offers volunteer opportunities that could count as volunteer hours needed by some clubs or scholarships. 

“We have volunteer opportunities for the students at the campus garden on Mondays from 3-5 p.m, and Fridays from 3-5 p.m.,” said Izzie Terrazas, a biology junior and president of Plant Club.

Terrazas is a hired worker through the Mays Center. When she’s not tending the garden, she’s in the office putting updates and times on GivePulse for students to sign up to volunteer. 

During the winter and summer breaks the garden is dependent on dorm students and students like Contreras and Terrazas to maintain it. 

Since COVID-19, there hasn’t been as much active membership in Plant Club. They are hoping students sign up for a volunteering event from 3-5 p.m. on Nov. 8. 

Every two weeks there are weeding days set so students and other volunteers can do a deep cleaning. 

Maintaining the gardening space and the upkeep is a lot of work, so students have to put in a lot of time and effort to keep the garden clean. 

“In a couple of years, we will lose that space,” Valdez Barillas said about the campus garden space. 

He said that with the growing campus, there is a building that is planned to go over it. 

The club is still negotiating with the university on where the campus garden space will be moved. 

The challenge of finding a new space and keeping the garden alive will need a lot of student voices. Dr. Valdez Barillas encourages students to speak up about it by writing letters to President Matson voicing their support and expressing their interest in continuing with the campus garden initiatives.  

The club is also looking to bring in more guest speakers, workshops and even try to make a farmers market for students.

The plants and vegetables grown in the garden are used in the campus food pantry for students to take home for their families. 

“We have a collaboration there. Anything that we harvest, we give to the General Store,” Terrazas said. 

For more information email Plant Club officers Maria Contreras or Izzie Terrazas at and

About the Author

Michelle L. Yanez
Michelle Yanez is a communications junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She enjoys writing opinionated articles and reading current news. She loves watching rom-coms in her free time. She hopes to pursue a career as a company spokesperson or corporate training for business communications.

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