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On October 31, 2019, in celebration of Samhain and Halloween, the Office of Spiritual Life (OSL) hosted an educational event to plant a selection of spiritual herbs and vegetables in Plot #2 of the UNT Community Garden, a campus sanctuary which was funded by the UNT We Mean Green Fund. The goal of the “Planting a Witches Garden” event was to better serve diverse religious communities that attend UNT while deepening their connections with the Office of Spiritual Life and the campus garden. The event explored and challenged witch stereotypes and explained contemporary witch practices and beliefs in an effort to foster diversity and unveil differing perspectives. Event attendees helped sow garlic, chamomile, beet, onion, and lettuce seeds which are associated with the diverse religious and spiritual traditions represented within the UNT community.
For many spiritual and religious traditions, using organic plants that have been grown locally is considered an important standard either due to specific norms within the religious tradition or beliefs about how human beings should interact with nature. The OSL event included demonstrations teaching students proper planting procedures and conditions, plant origins, and ancient, medicinal, and social uses.
The Office of Spiritual Life has tended to a plot in the UNT Community Garden since its opening in 2017. Historically, working in the garden with student volunteers to produce food that could be donated to the UNT Food Pantry on campus. As of this fall, the OSL has transformed its gardening focus to planting plants that are spiritually and religiously oriented so that students can utilize the space for personal, spiritual, and religious practices. Students will continue to grow food in Plot #2 with intentions of donating to the UNT Food Pantry. However, in place of bi-weekly OSL workday events, the OSL will host more special events like “Planting a Witches Garden” that are intended to give students knowledge and skills focused on creating spiritual connections. Examples of upcoming meetings include: learning how to grow plants to make your own incense, learning how to dry and store herbs for later use in cooking, and how to garden sustainably using organic composting methods.
Community members are invited to attend the upcoming Spiritual Gardening meetings; updates about future meetups may be found on the OSL’s Facebook page. Anyone interested in joining the UNT Community Garden, in conjunction with or separately from the OSL plot, is welcome to apply as a recurring garden member or sign up to receive updates about future drop-in volunteer opportunities. To stay informed, connect with the UNT Community Garden on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Written by Heather Williams, We Mean Green Fund and Office of Spiritual Life graduate assistant.