It has been over a year since the freshmen living-learning community, the Garden Project, was created at USF. The garden, which only a year ago was a barren patch of weeds, is now a fertile plot complete with an orchard of apple, persimmon, peach, and lime trees, an herb spiral that includes thyme and oregano, and tomato and squash plants. This year students will be planting a whole new crop of broccoli, beets, kale, chard, lettuces, fava beans, garlic, and onions.
Since the garden is already established, the students will focus less on planting and more of other aspects of having a community garden: how to develop a community around organic food production, harvest and use the range of fruits and vegetables grown in San Francisco, learn about garden friendly animals such as bats, chickens, and insects, and composting practices. They will also build water composts, outdoor kitchen, trellises, and a green house.
This year’s Garden Project community has expanded to twenty members, both male and female. The incoming freshmen are diverse and come from all over the world with a range of majors that include Environmental Studies, Biology, Architecture and Community, Media Studies, Business, and Graphic Design.
The new Garden Project community is enthusiastic about the upcoming plans for the garden. Jordan Woodruff, an international business major, said that she joined the living community as a way to keep her busy so that she does not get homesick. She likes the community because the class does everything as a group and as a result becomes closer to each other. Also, it makes her aware of where her resources come from.
Over the summer, the garden was maintained by the director of Wellness, Christin Anderson, and a staff of thirty volunteers, comprised of faculty and neighbors. The staff watered the vegetables, vines, fruit trees, and herbs; weeded, added mulch, planted new vegetables, maintained the pathways of the garden, and harvested. Despite all the work, the staff enjoyed the garden’s edible benefits.
In addition to managing the garden, Anderson also opened it to faculty and staff to use for health and exercise. According to Anderson, the garden was opened because the department is “trying to get people out of buildings and into nature, and getting them to appreciate what’s there so they can feel better and healthier.”
The new crop of Garden Project students began the school year planting and harvesting in hopes of maintaining the momentum from last year. The garden is located next to the School of Education and is open for any community member to enjoy, relax in and partake of the harvest. Anderson described the garden as “a sanctuary, a place for learning, and a place for exercise.”