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* It takes a village...Biology and LCN students work together on community garden

Students in Education Coordinator Guru Dorje’s Learning Center North classes and Biology Professor Judy Penn’s new Sustainable Gardening class, Biology 126 have joined hands in a gardening project to help those in need. 

The project actually began last summer when LCN students cleaned out an area near the 2600 building on campus and planted a vegetable garden.  Under the direction of Dorje, the students planted bok choy, spinach, onions, strawberries and golden raspberries, which were donated to local shelters last spring and summer.


“It was a great success,” Dorje said, referring to not only providing fresh produce for those who greatly needed it, but for the students to have the opportunity to help others.   


“The proposed community-campus garden offers a chance for the Center for Service Learning to work collaboratively with Hopelink (Food Bank) and Learning Center North to improve and expand upon creative learning opportunities for our students, in ways that also attend to pressing community needs,” Service Learning Coordinator Kaelyn Caldwell said in her grant request for the development and implementation of the new community-campus garden. 


This winter, Penn, an avid gardener herself, designed a sustainable gardening class in which students would learn how to prepare soil, garden with less water, make compost and more.  The class, “a perfect solution for non-majors who need a science lab course,” the biologist said, has a service learning component.  It’s also perfect for a partnership with Dorje’s class.


Penn, who was intrigued with the LCN community garden, realized the potential of a partnership, and after discussions with Dorje, Lab Technician, Amy Easton, and a meeting with Caldwell, “it all started coming together,” she said about the collaboration.  “She really made this possible,” Penn said about Caldwell.   


Caldwell said that the Shoreline food bank, Hopelink, had reported much greater demand, with clients increasing by 30 percent and donations staying at the same level as in past years.  Her grant focused on the need to provide organic and culturally rich produce, healthy foods like fresh vegetables that most people who survive on food bank donations don’t see too often.  They will also be thoughtful about culturally relevant produce to fit the needs of the culturally diverse clientele at the food bank.  


Penn, Easton and Dorje are enthusiastic about the partnership.  “Even though the students will work on the garden at different times, it’s a real team effort,” Dorje said.  Penn said the garden will prosper more with students tending to it at different times – and that Dorje’s students will maintain the gardens during the quarters when her class isn’t offered.


On a sunny day In late winter, Dorje, Penn, Easton (and her family), chemistry instructor Amar Yahiaoui, part-time biology instructor David Baldwin (who also donated soil and equipment from his business, Baldy’s Gardens) and Caldwell worked alongside students and other faculty and staff preparing the garden.  An irrigation system was installed, beds were prepared with sustainable resources, and seedlings were planted.  Baldwin also delivered logs from trees that had fallen on a friend’s yard in eastern Washington.  The logs provide comfortable seating for the students working in the gardens.


Penn said her students, who meet at the garden on Saturdays, work in groups on specific aspects of the garden such as doing research on culturally relevant produce for the clients at the food bank, ideas for a children’s garden for the Parent Child Center, and teaching food bank clients how to start and maintain their own gardens. 


They will also recruit volunteers from Hopelink. “So we are really looking at the whole sustainability piece – not only providing them with fresh produce but also teaching them how to grow their own and become self-sustaining by growing their own,” Penn said. 


Penn said that everybody has done so much to make this possible that she just can’t believe it. “Kaelyn is the reason the glue helping everybody get to this point. She is the one person to really bring people together getting people to start talking about it. David created an earth-friendly design, installed the irrigation and provided many of the materials. Guru and his students have been so enthusiastically involved in the creation of the garden. And Amy is really the behind the scenes person. She has done a lot of the logistics, getting the supplies, and she is going to be the administrator of the garden the point person for the long-term.”


Some of the others involved in the project include Director of the Parent-Child Center, Darlene Bakes; SCC Grounds Specialist, Andi Tjan; Greenhouse Coordinator, Jessica Linkins; Facilities Director, Bob Roehl; Instructors Amar Yahiaoui and Michael Paustain; Hopelink Program Manager, Leslie Brooks, and students.



12:30 - 3pm, Wed, April 21, Just north of the 2700 Building Bldg
Join us for the dedication and celebration of the new Deep Roots Community-Campus Garden!  Official dedication starts at 2 p.m. Enjoy live music, art-making opportunities, plant sales, and more!  Come share in the excitement and let us know how you'd like to see this garden grow!


Future work dates will be publicized in Day at a Glance so more campus members can get involved.


                                                              Donna Myers/PIO