Thursday, April 18, 2013

University of Memphis Celebrates Earth Day in Oasis Garden

University of Memphis Celebrates Earth Day in Oasis Garden
By:  Michael G. Lander

Several hundred University of Memphis students, faculty,
and others celebrate Earth Day at the campus Oasis Garden.
The University of Memphis was the scene of a garden party that was probably not exactly like most others in and around the City of Memphis.  Students, faculty, local environmental organizations, green vendors, and others gathered together on Thursday, April 18, in the Oasis Garden, behind the University of Memphis' Elma Roane Fieldhouse to celebrate Earth Day. 

The event was hosted by Tiger Blue Goes Green and the Tigers Initiative for Gardens in Urban Settings
(TIGUrS), which is sponsored by the Green Campus Initiative.  The initiative is paid for, in part, by student tuition and fees with the goal of providing sustainable technologies and practices.

The four hour event took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and included food, live music, and a release of butterflies at noon.  It was the fourth such event at the university around Earth Day, which is on April 22, and it marks the anniversaryof what many consider to be the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

Laura Nelson and William "Alex" Briggs watch
the butterflies they just released.

Hundreds of butterflies are released at the University of
Memphis' Earth Day celebration on Thursday, April 18th.

Five years ago, the University of Memphis Director of Animal Care Facilities, Dr. Karyl Buddington teamed up with the Assistant Manager of Landscape services, Kim Wilson, and the two started a project that has subsequently yielded fruit and a whole lot more. 

With a passion for gardening and permission from the university, the two came together and, in 2009, planted gardens behind the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. 

"We raised money, some initially coming from our own pockets," Wilson said. 

Since then, the garden has been funded by the Green Campus Initiative, and organically grown fruits, vegetables and herbs can be found in five different gardens around the campus.  All of this is free to students, faculty, staff, or to anyone in the Memphis area community. 

"We also try to grow things that are native to many of the ethnicities of our students," Wilson said. 

Sophomore Vanezia Hamilton, who's major is in Anthropology, is a TIGUrS Intern who works with Wilson. 

"We have been working today's event since before the semester began in January," Hamilton said.  "We hope to be able to promote sustainability and to unite people.  We also want people to come out and support us in our community outreach efforts."

Kenny Latta, who is a graduate student with a Master's Degree in Applied Anthropology, echoed some of Hamilton's remarks. 

"We want to share our resources and practices with the community," Latta said.

Among the dozen or more vendors at this year's event was artist Martin Martinez and his agent, Monica Villarreal.  Martinez is the founder and creator of Cosmo Universal Art, which is based in Dallas, Texas. 

Martin Martinez demonstrates his quick spray paint artwork.
Martinez is the founder and creator of Cosmo Universal Art.
"Everything that Martin creates is from recycled materials and nothing ever goes to waste," Villarreal said.  "Even left over spray paint and the cans and the eucaboards that he uses are turned into art."

The following is a link to Martinez creating some of his spray paint artwork: and a link to his facebook page:

Other vendors included the following:
Woodland Tree Service, University of Memphis Tiger Bike, The Laundry Ladies, Shelby Farms Park, Memphis Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, Memphis City Beautiful, Keep Tennessee Beautiful, Juice Plus, Grow Memphis, Greater Memphis Greenline, Clean Memphis, City of Memphis Storm Water Matters, and Aihu.



  1. Thank you for welcoming us to Memphis,Tn and hope that we can attend your next event. Stay in touch. Cosmo Universal Art

  2. Thank you for this article. I'm just finding out about it! Earth Day 2014 : April 17. 10am-4pm. ~Hamilton

  3. You're welcome, Nesse! I really enjoyed Earth Day last year at the University of Memphis & I hope it is even bigger & better this year.