The Challenge: Can a group of CSUSM students turn an unused road bed, compacted 95%, into a class-based community garden yielding organic produce and demonstrating a variety of systems for growing vegetables? Twenty-three students are finding out by working on development of the Food Project, an ongoing experiment in experiential learning and food justice.
The intent is to grow food as part of the learning and class activities in Geography 460: Food Systems and Emerging Markets. At the same time, the garden is much more than just a class activity. As students are responsble for building and farming the garden, they are gaining hands-on experience in the integration of experiential learning with curriculum -- an amazing opportunity for both future teachers and gardeners alike. Students in this class are active learners inquiring into the variety and diversity of school and community gardens while also uncovering the structure and functioning of the global food system and experiencing frequent and regular interactions with the environment in San Marcos.
The Strategic Plan: In Spring 2012, five CSUSM business students elected to particpate in a "Senior Experience" project that led to the Food Project's first strategic plan. They compared best practices, made contact with key supporters and wrote up the plan which you can download here. They presented their strategic plan at a Trade Show sponsored by the College of Business Administration. The gist of their preojct: Yes, we can, with community support!
The Pilot Project in Summer 2012: Initial planning for the Food Project began with a small pilot garden developed over the summer. Three raised beds were built with student volunteers and the help of Facilities and Adminstrative Services. The students built the beds and filled them with dirt using tools provided by the Department of Anthropology. Meanwhile, we applied for grants.
Roll-out: The class began developing the garden in September. The first challenge: deer and rebbits. The campus has a large amount of open space located immediately adjacent to the garden's location. The solution: a fence. We settled on a deer fence that excluded both deer and smaller animals. We will see what happens as we build the fence in late September and then plant. Check back for updates.
Funding: The Food Project is funded by a University Professional Development Grant and by a Faculty Development Grant. The latter grant provided the initial funding for a pilot in the Summer of 2012. The UPD is funding the expansion of the pilot in Fall 2012. But the Food Project wouldn't be successful without the generous help and assistance of donors, volunteers, and numerous supporters.
Current Supporters of the Food Project:
- Agricultural Irrigation Systems, San Marcos, Ca
- The Department of Liberal Studies
- The Departmant of Anthropology
- The CSUSM Sustainability Committee
- Sustainability and Utility Services
- Facility Services
- The Center for Applied Horticultural Research, Vista, Ca
Our supporters are providing critical in-kind contributions, advice and support, and resources. If you are interested in becoming a supporter or finding out more about the Food Project, contact Professor Greig Tor Guthey.
Special thanks to Sid Alvarez, Bonnie Bade, Floyd Dudley, Dave Egger, Bryan Fisher, Steve Holbrook, George Martinez, and Ed Johnson whose support and assistance have been central to the Food Project's launch.
Our Wish List
- Garden Tools (shovels and rakes)
- A Shed
- A shade structure or arbor
- Tables and seating
- Plant starts