Clark Kerr Garden: Food for Students, By Students

By: Lucy Tate, Cal Dining Sustainability Team

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This past Friday, many UC Berkeley students made the uphill trek to Clark Kerr Campus eager to get their hands in some soil. While the UC Berkeley campus has been a hotbed for food-related studies recently, with the welcome of the Food Systems minor and efforts surrounding the Global Food Initiative, the little known garden at Clark Kerr has sat lonely with only overgrown vegetation for company. Anxious to change this situation, the Cal Dining Sustainability Team has been working to revitalize the garden with hopes of using the space for education through experiential learning, localizing our food system by growing produce and herbs for the CKC dining hall and facilitating social action on campus towards supporting a sustainable food system.

Despite many recent efforts to address food security on campus, many UC Berkeley students experience food insecurity. The Food Pantry, which serves students in need, often lacks a sustainable supply of fresh produce and can only offer non-perishable items. One aim of the Clark Kerr garden is to donate produce to the Food Pantry. By growing produce that is nutrient-dense and/or too expensive to buy in stores, the garden hopes to makes healthy, fresh produce more accessible to those in need.

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Moreover, with the current drought in California and increasingly negative impacts of climate change, urban agriculture and sustainable land use are possible visions for our future. The Clark Kerr garden serves to localize our food system by working with executive chef Daniel Moreno to supply the CKC dining hall with herbs and produce tailored to menu items. Localizing our food system also acts as a method of energy conservation since we are cutting out transportation and packaging. Also, students have made it clear that they are interested in the emerging field of food systems along with experiential learning. Educational workshops at the garden and the use of farming techniques such as drought-tolerant crops, drip irrigation and dry farming can help students learn sustainable practices of food production.

With help from executive chef Daniel Moreno, Gardener Susanne Wiesman and student volunteers, future plans for the garden are bright. Contact the Cal Dining Sustainability Team (lucy.n.tate@berkeley.edu) if you’re interested in more information or participating at a future garden work day!

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