CSUB community gives input on Edible Garden

Photo+by+Esteban+Ramirez%2FThe+Runner

Photo by Esteban Ramirez/The Runner

Esteban Ramirez

Managing Editor

 

The Edible Garden at CSU Bakersfield has been in discussions for over the past two years, but the school is now moving forward to the design phase of the project.

This week CSUB asked for input and ideas from stakeholders by holding two charrettes to gather information.

CSUB Sustainability Coordinator and former ASI Executive Vice President Jennifer Sanchez said they held two charettes to see what the campus wants to see at the Edible Garden, which is meant to provide free and healthy food options to students, staff and faculty.

CSUB students had the chance to give their input on some of the garden's features. Photo by Esteban Ramirez/The Runner
CSUB students had the chance to give their input on some of the garden’s features.
Photo by Esteban Ramirez/The Runner

“The event was great,” she said. “We didn’t only have survey respondents we had engaged and excited individuals. Many stayed and had conversations with us about their interest and their ideas. Some offered resources, information and even donations.”

Students, staff and faculty, had the chance to cast their votes for features, such as fencing of the garden, a demonstration kitchen and types of plants they want to see in the garden.

“They are being very detailed in how they want to build it, how they want the function carried out and what type of plans,” said senior business administration major Mikell Torres on the charettes. “I think it’s great that they are asking for as much input. It really shows that they really want our suggestions.”

One charrette was held Wednesday, Oct. 12 and the second on Thursday, Oct. 13.

Sanchez said they had 310 people show up and take the surveys.

Additionally, Sanchez said 250 took the online survey that was emailed to students’ email account.

Sanchez added more than half of the students that showed up for the charettes stated they are interested in volunteering.

Sanchez said they had posters with various ideas on them where the campus got to put different colored dots on them to vote for those ideas.

They even had the opportunity to see where they want the garden to be at.

The Edible Garden is planned to be in the south end of campus near Camino Media and Haggin Oaks. It will be south of the Roadrunner Softball Complex and where the Facility of Animal and Care Treatment.

Executive Assistant to the President Evelyn Young said they wanted the garden in the south end of the campus to entice the community to visit the campus if they are passing by that side.

“People will want to go there,” Young said. “It’s going to be a destination location and a gathering place.”

The idea for the garden came after professor of economics, environmental and global studies Aaron Hegde did a food on security study back in 2013.

In the study, Hegde found out that 40 percent of the population on campus doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from or have to cut back on groceries because of rent, gas or other utilities.

Therefore, they wanted to bring a garden that will feed students, staff and faculty healthy food for free.

“I know a few people between bills and other expenses by the time it comes down to food, they are just scraping by,” said Torres. “There only real options are the dollar menu at a fast-food restaurant or asking someone to help them out, so it’s a great initiative to help students in need.”

Young said the garden would provide better quality and better and flavorful food options.

She added the garden is abiding by quality of life, sustainability and justice.

“It was a long time coming,” said Young. “The edible garden holds a promise of access to food and healthy options.

Young said it is vital to have the input from the campus and the charettes and surveys are an example of that.

The garden itself will incorporate hydroponics, which is the same idea that is used at the Epcot Center in Disneyland that was developed by Tim Carpenter.

The majority of the garden is going to be vertical, which consists of pots stacked on top of one another. The outlying areas will have the traditional garden beds.

They will be utilizing 10,000 square feet of hydroponics systems which in these systems the water comes from the top and trickles down through the various basins that are holding the plants.

According to Young, one of the advantages of the hydroponics are low-water usage because it goes directly into the plant and not staying in the soil.

The other benefits are less labor and fewer pesticides.

“We will be able to grow more flavorful foods faster with fewer resources and less labor intensity than controversial farming,” Young said.

The garden will also feature a welcome center, student research area, a meditation circle, an outside dining area, a farm-to-table demonstration kitchen and outside student lounge area.

CSUB students give their input on some of the features for the Edible Garden Thurs., Oct. 13. The garden is in the design phase. Photo by Esteban Ramirez/The Runner
CSUB students give their input on some of the features for the Edible Garden Thurs., Oct. 13. The garden is in the design phase.
Photo by Esteban Ramirez/The Runner

The garden is estimated to cost around $177,000.

However, Associated Students Inc. is funding $42,000 to the kitchen, which is expected to cost $35,900 to $40,900.

But the garden will also be utilized educate students and for teaching classes, such as perspectives in biology, introductory to biology — plants, plant diversity and much more.

“We also want to educate students on how to prepare fresh meals, healthy meals and having cooking classes,” Young said.

The garden is also providing job opportunities for CSUB students and graduate students.

“Numerous opportunities to employ students, educate younger visitors and empower members of our larger community to grow healthy food,” Young said.

Both Young and Sanchez stated that they are not looking at raising students’ fees to build the garden.

The plan was originally to have the garden up and ready this October or November, but Sanchez said she thinks not having staffing during the summer held the garden back.

If students didn’t have a chance to go to the charettes, they will still have a chance to share their input by filling out the survey sent to their school email.

Sanchez added for students who want to help the garden; they can contact her to be a part of an informal group called the “garden champions.”

The “garden champions” would help with future garden projects, whether it’s for tree planting, for survey organizing or just actively share the garden updates with their club or organization.

For more information, students contact Sanchez at [email protected]