By: Ian Davies, 4th-year Undergraduate at UCLA studying Environmental Science and GIS
Every Sunday at around 12:30, students gather at a little plot of land tucked away in the back of Sunset Rec. They pass through a modest bamboo fence, arm themselves with shovels, watering cans, and hoes, and descend on the fourteen vegetable beds and surrounding fruit trees.
This motley crew of undergraduate and graduate students might not look like a gardening collective, but their volunteer work helps operate the largest student garden on campus. Dig at UCLA: The Campus Garden Coalition, is a group I help run which repurposes underutilized spaces on campus into productive fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens for student use. None of us were experienced gardeners when we began. Rather, we were experienced eaters brought together by a mutual interest in food policy and the worrying disconnect between consumers and food production.
The result is delicious and educational. In the warm weather, we feast on fiery-colored tomatoes and curiously-shaped summer squash, while in the winter we enjoy dark leafy greens and root vegetables.
We nourish our minds as well as our bellies. We host workshops on gardening techniques, offer tours of our garden space, and transform our modest plot every week into a space for discussing food and sustainability.
Caring for own my food from vulnerable seedling to harvest has conferred a deeper appreciation for the farm systems which feed us all. I’ve also realized that for all of us, a little ingenuity can transform even the most cramped spaces into urban gardens, be it an apartment balcony or a bathroom windowsill. Gardening may not have been the easiest hobby to pick up at the beginning, but I’m happy to say I’ve found a life-long passion that I love sharing with others.
Dig at UCLA meets every Sunday at 12:00pm in the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. No experience necessary! Visit us online at http://digucla.weebly.com to keep up with the latest updates, including the upcoming construction of a new community garden at Hershey Hall.