Credit: Emma Roberts | Courtesy

Cal Poly’s Garden Club membership has doubled since last year.   

The club has seen its membership grow from 250 members last year to 500 members this year. Club members consist of a variety of students from different majors, but the majority is environmental management and protection according to environmental management and protection junior and Garden Club Co-President Anna Marie Peterson. 

During 2020, membership decreased largely due to remote learning due to COVID-19. This club revolves around in-person activities, which posed a challenge last year with the pandemic. 

“We did a great job at the club showcase, advertising on social media and [gardening] is also a great COVID[-19] safe activity,” environmental management junior and Co-President Mari Stusser said. 

Many students became more interested in gardening and the outdoors throughout the pandemic.

“My love for plants and the outdoors has increased over COVID-19 so that is definitely the reason why I joined this year,” environmental earth and soil freshman Morgan Francis said. 

The club has been working with City Farm SLO and local food banks in order to advertise the club and gain a network. 

“We are the only club that is sort of the heart of Cal Poly with agriculture and being outside and we think that’s why people are drawn to our club,” Stusser said.

Stusser explains that the main reason the word spread about the club is because all the members are so “passionate” and it “rubs off on people.” 

The Garden Club was founded in 2018 and the members do their work in the agricultural farms on campus. The club focuses on regenerative agricultural practices, which is a form of agriculture that aims to restore soil quality, increase biodiversity, improve water quality and use less chemicals, according to Peterson.  

The club also has animals: 21 chickens, six ducks and two farm cats. These animals help control pests without the use of pesticides.

“It is a contrast from conventional agricultural practices,” Peterson said. “We do no till farming to maintain the soil.”

According to Peterson, the club does intercropping, which is the planting of various crops in the same area to add nutrients to the soil. The club also aims to plant native plants. 

Environmental management and protection sophomore Madeline Windsor manages the compost facilities at the Student Experimental Farm and loves the community of the club. 

“I think people are just extra excited to get involved with clubs this year since no one was able to take part last year,” Windsor said. “ The Garden Club gives students an opportunity to do that in a beautiful place where they can make friends and build community.” 

Windsor admires the hard work of the members.

“My favorite part about being in this club is watching the [Student Experimental Farm] go through its seasons, and seeing how many people care enough to come out week after week to help implement projects and improve the space,” Windsor said.“The Garden Club tends to attract some really awesome folks.” 

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