UCSB’s greenhouses, like most campus entities, are suffering due to the university’s lack of green.
According to greenhouse manager Joan Calder, the greenhouses provide a critical teaching tool to science students, but, like many programs on campus, are having a difficult time making ends meet with dwindling funds. Hours have been cut and much-needed repairs pushed to the wayside as a result of the budget crisis, she said.
“I have to be very careful not to spend more than my budget,” Calder said. “I’m always told I don’t have much money and I watch it. I’m restricted as to how many hours I can have students; I’ve reduced my student hours.”
Even though the greenhouses are significant to classes and research, Calder said the facility is frequently neglected.
“Things are left undone, I have to admit,” Calder said. “The budget repairs are not made in a timely fashion. I hope this will improve when we’re approved for some grants.”
Additionally, greenhouse employee Heidi Diaz, a third-year anthropology major, said the situation has led to concerns about student safety.
“I understand that the way that things are set up over there has seemed to tighten up and there have not been enough repairs taking place,” Diaz said. “Things have been allowed to get into disarray. It’s dangerous.”
Although Calder said the university’s lack of urgency in caring for the greenhouses is disappointing, she was quick to point out that student workers have not let the lack of funding affect their enthusiasm.
Undergraduate assistant Heather Liu, a fourth-year ecology, evolution and marine biology major, is using the campus greenhouses for her seed bank and germination studies. She said the project uses controlled burning to manage non-native grasses on Lagoon Island. Liu said she has had sufficient funding through a variety of grants, including a $1,000 CH Molar Award.
“If I hadn’t received the CH Molar Award, this project would probably not be possible,” Liu said. “There is a field portion to this project where we have to go out to the island and observe the responses of the grasses, which requires equipment.”
Despite budgetary constraints, Calder said she remains optimistic. The research that takes place at the greenhouses continues to be valuable, she said, and student projects have prospered despite stark conditions.
“The old houses need to be redone, but we’re working on it,” Calder said. “It’s a very political process — planning takes a long time at UCSB.”