No high resolution image exists...
Sacramento City College students, faculty and staff gathered on campus Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the kickoff of the City Farm pilot project, an experiential curriculum-based community garden that will serve as an alternative teaching mechanism for multiple disciplines throughout the next school year.
The project was developed over the spring semester by a group of students and administrators led by the school’s faculty garden coordinator and graphic communications professor, Robyn Waxman.
“We had been thinking about how to get all these other disciplines to learn from the dirt,” Waxman said, adding that future students will be able to use it for hands-on learning. “It signifies a really big change in how we teach, deal with the budget crisis and how we build community on our campus,” she said.
The garden, located between Lillard Hall and the staff parking lot on the southeast side of campus, is composed of four 12-foot-by-4-foot raised beds, each complete with a drip irrigation system, and was completed over the summer with a $1000 grant from the college foundation. All other materials are donated from advocates such as Soil Born Farms and other small organic farms in Davis.
The kickoff event was met with much support from the college’s students and staff. A group of about 30 audience members, including children and teachers from the school’s child development center, looked on as guest speakers said a few welcoming words over four large, empty raised garden beds.
“We left this space empty so everyone can imagine what could be grown here,” Waxman said.
The garden doesn’t necessarily result in something people have to eat in the end, Waxman explained, “It has a tangible medium to make abstract concepts learned in a four-walled classroom more meaningful - a way of having a classroom that doesn’t need to be in a building.”
Each bed will be implemented into a class curriculum and passed along at the end of each semester. For the fall semester, one bed will be used for a plant biology class, which will grow California native plants, and another for the Child Development Center.
A third bed will be given to the City Farm Club, a student/faculty alliance that will act as the driving force behind the community garden, caring for its own garden bed and helping the children take care of their bed as well.
“We will be the overseers of all the beds; the force behind the scenes,”said Ryan Thalken, president of the City Farm Club.
The club is currently taking new members and is discussing a weekly meeting time for the group. Thalken said he hopes to begin planting for the winter season soon. For more information on the City Farm Club or how to get involved, click here.
Kathryn Jeffery, president of the college, described her enthusiasm for the project as reluctant at first, but added that she sees promise in the small scale project.
“It’s an opportunity to take a concept or an idea, put action behind it and see it grow over time,” Jeffery said.
Jeffery, who explained her father worked as a farmer, said the pilot project will give students at the college and children at the Child Development Center a chance to become more personally involved and more engaged in their learning environment.
Loretta Bruce, lead teacher at the Child Development Center, said she has already discussed with the children vegetables they would like to grow, which include tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce and cauliflower. The center still needs children’s hand tools and watering cans, she said.
“I think the earlier the kids realize they can grow this food, it’ll help them grow into a healthier lifestyle,” Bruce added.
The opening ceremony was not completed without Jeffery’s well-wishes: “Go forth and dig!” - That was followed by a ceremonial turning of the soil by the children of the center themselves.
“In honor of all those who till the soil, we do this today,” Jeffery concluded.
At the end of each semester, the beds will be passed onto the next semester’s classes to build upon and grow successively.
“It’s hard to imagine that a garden will be used as a place for anything other than growing food, but it can,” Waxman said, adding that it’s going to take a little time for people to see the abstract use of the garden, though other Los Rios colleges are already interested.
Administrators will look back on the project near the end of the school year to make further decisions on whether or not the project will continue or expand.
For more information on how to get involved with the City Farm pilot project, or the multiple disciplines it will serve, click here.