At CSUMB, student garden will provide food for mind, body

Tomatoes, carrots, squash and other vegetables are sprouting on college campuses across the country – ready for harvesting as part of a student movement to promote organic, sustainable gardening, environmental awareness and healthy eating.

Students work on four raised beds on a Saturday in AprilAnd CSU Monterey Bay is part of the movement. The Eden Garden Club is creating a student-run garden located near the Watershed Institute, on the east side of campus. 

“The club has 85 members on its mailing list, so there’s a great interest in it,” said Liz Lopez, one of the club’s co-presidents. “But the core group has between 10 and 15 members.”

The garden occupies a 26- by 20-foot area that includes four raised beds, each six feet by four feet. A drip irrigation system will provide the water and showcase conservation practices.

So far, the beds have been built, using donated lumber. Club members are negotiating prices for soil, seeds and the drip irrigation system. Then, the beds will be finished with gopher wire and filled with soil. Planting and mulching will follow.

“The plan is to start with easier and climate-specific crops such as carrots, radishes, lettuces, artichokes, strawberries, maybe some beans and cherry tomatoes, and lots of herbs,” said faculty member Rebecca Kersnar, the club’s adviser.

At CSUMB, the garden is a natural extension of the campus-wide effort to go green. Those efforts Eden Garden Club members have planted four beds on the east side of campusinclude LEED-certified building construction and renovation, a strong academic emphasis on environmental issues being addressed across the curriculum, and locally sourced food served in the Dining Commons.

Students have high hopes for the garden. The growing should continue through the summer when volunteers will plant, water and weed, and harvest the first crop.

“Autumn and winter crops will be planted as well,” Lopez said. “The harvest will be shared among the club members.

“We’re also planning on hosting events with the campus food service provider. And holding seminars on subjects such as gardening at home and vermicomposting,” Lopez said.

Lopez said she sees the garden as a great way to begin conversations on campus about organics and sustainability. “What could be more sustainable than an organic garden so students can be involved in the food growing process?,” she asked.

“This will empower students by letting them know that they can make a sustainable life for themselves, as well as build community on our campus,” Lopez added.

And, it will give students an appreciation for farm workers and the process by which food makes its way from the fields to the grocery store.

To learn more, or to join the Eden Garden Club, contact co-presidents Liz Lopez (ellopez@csumb.edu) or Josh Ambrose (jambrose@csumb.edu).

To see more photos, click here.

Watch the video to learn more about sustainability at CSUMB