As their year-long service project, six freshmen honor students teamed up with the Sustainability Center to build a community garden at Cal Poly.
“The goal is to bring people together, to know where your food comes from, to be a community center base and hold activities there,” biological sciences freshman Matt Behrens said. “This is a garden that we want to build community and a sense of wellness in.”
The students completed research inspired by community gardens at University of California, Los Angeles, John Hopkins University, University of California, Davis and Stanford University, looking into their gardens websites, mentorship programs and promotion of their gardens.
“So far it’s been a lot of work, but it’s been pretty cool to see how other schools have completed this task and envision it for our own school. It’s also been an experience to see how much work really goes into this,” economics freshman Eva Johnson said.
The students hosted a stakeholders meeting Dec. 1 at the Facilities Center for everyone who wanted to help the garden become a reality. At the meeting were representatives from the University Honors Program, Polyponics, Cal Poly Food Pantry, the Multicultural Center as well as other professors and students interested in playing a part in the development of the garden.
“I think this is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain experience and insight and also to create a community within Cal Poly between faculty, students and staff,” Volunteer Coordinator Colleen Trostle said. “I hope this is kind of a hub for anyone to build relationships and use it as an outlet and a learning experience.”
Some of these programs will be taking part in the garden by supporting or planting sections of the garden. The Food Pantry will be teaming up with the garden to harvest some of what is grown there for students in need of fresh food.
Those at the meeting brainstormed activities, how to alleviate garden costs and how to confirm membership. Ideas for activities included open mic, yoga and hands-on lessons for classes.
After gathering all the information and suggestions from the meeting, students will begin constructing the garden during winter quarter to begin planting in the spring.
“After this meeting we will actually begin constructing a garden, talking to Cal Poly Facilities and figure out where this garden will go. We have money coming in already, but we also need donations in kind to get physical supplies such as shovels and rigs and wood and dirt,” Behrens said.
Though the garden is still in early stages of development, Sustainability Coordinator Kylee Singh feels the garden will have a lot of value.
“We have a lot of students who come from urban areas on campus,” Singh said. “One of the problems with our food system is there is a disconnect between how we grow food and what we eat. I think the value is connecting people back to how food grows and allowing people to get their hands dirty right here in the middle of campus.”