Green thumbed students, faculty and community members alike gathered this weekend to celebrate nearly 40 years of green gardening at UCSB.
Located behind Harder Stadium, the UCSB Greenhouse and Garden Project is open to all members of the UCSB community, and for an annual fee of $20 and a refundable deposit of $10, members are allotted a plot of their choosing and granted full access to the gardens, tools, water, manure and garden assistants.
In celebration of the project, gardeners came together this past Saturday to swap seeds and partake in a potluck. The festival also featured live music from local musicians Other Nature, Watercolor Paintings and Jean-Luc Fraikin.
Mitchell Flexo, co-director of the greenhouse project, said events like the seed swap embody the community spirit of the gardens.
“[The garden] was set up in the 1970s by an art professor, and they decided to turn a bunch of empty space into a community garden,” Flexo, a fourth-year global studies major, said. “We have fruit trees for anyone and a community space for events like [Saturday’s] get-together. There are some great spots to just go out, relax, eat fruit and chill.”
Flexo said growing food locally is a healthy and enjoyable way to reduce carbon footprints.
“It’s tied into sustainability as a whole,” Flexo said. “We want people to understand their relationship with their food and the earth it comes from. The average item in a grocery store travels 1,500 miles to get to your plate, which is a lot of fossil fuel waste.”
Greenhouse plot Co-director Samantha Dowd said plots are typically 10 square feet, many of which belong to a group of caretakers.
“We have between 50 and 60 plots,” Dowd, a fourth-year environmental studies major, said. “Most people grow vegetables and herbs, but some grow flowers and whatever they feel like. It’s really peaceful, and with the density of I.V., it’s nice to have a little outside space of your own.”
Dowd said members of the community are encouraged to donate their organic waste to the greenhouse compost pile.
“The potential to create food that can meet so much of our needs from your backyard is incredible,” Dowd said. “Local, organic food just makes sense if you’re concerned with quality. It’s the best choice.”
Fellow plot Co-director Brandon Wickes said the gardens are divided evenly between undergrads, graduate students, faculty and staff.
“We’re trying to work on getting more people involved because it’s a really good campus resource,” Wickes, a third-year environmental studies major, said. “A lot of students are getting involved, which is great. We’re hoping it’s a trend that’s going to continue.”
Once a plot is allotted, Wickes said, members are free to plant anything within legal means.
“You can pretty much plant anything, but nothing illegal,” Wickes said. “People do a lot of stuff. Some people will plant only flowers, some will do only food.”
Wickes said products grown in the community garden cannot be sold for profit and that any monetary gain generated by the produce goes back into the garden fund for supplies.
“I think [the garden] is important because, especially in recent times, food systems have grown beyond their means,” Wickes said. “In times like these with the economic recession, I’ve noticed people trying to restore more local food systems.”