Bronco Urban Gardens, BUG for short, is a new partnership between SCU’s Environmental Studies Institute, and the Silicon Valley HealthCorps. BUG, an environmental justice initiative, aims to increase community food security, sustainability, and environmental literacy in Santa Clara County. Americorps volunteers support the creation of urban gardens and garden education programs. BUG also oversees the Forge Garden, SCU’s ½ acre education and community garden on the corner of Benton and Sherman streets.
BUG currently works with several schools and community centers, including: Washington Elementary, Rocketship Mateo Sheedy, Gardner Academy, Alma Youth and Senior Center, and The River.
Who’s behind BUG: (in order of appearance, L to R)
James' affiliation with BUG helps him actualize his vision of vocation: building community through food and artistic ventures. His goal is to be of service to others. James enjoys the prospect of working with children as a mentor figure and a guide. "Kids remind me that there are different ways of looking at the world. I try to look at things from their perspective." When asked to name his favorite vegetable, James took pause. "That's a tough question... can I pick my top 3?"
Marsha's drive to join BUG stems from her passion to help others make connections to their food. Her motivation is watching people get excited about planting or eating the food they grew. Marsha has had a longtime interest in farming and knew she wanted to "bring it on" in the South Bay. BUG is giving her the opportunity to build community around growing food, sharing food, connecting to nature, and connecting to our roots as a society that relies on agriculture to sustain ourselves.
Patrick is the Director of Campus and Community Programs at ESI. He started BUG here at SCU, based on his 15 years of experience with urban agriculture and community gardens, which were primarily spent in the East Bay. Fun fact: Marsha, James, and Annie are all former students of Patrick! Marsha at UC Berkeley, James and Annie at SCU.
Annie became interested in environmental justice as a student at SCU. She was deeply involved in social justice groups and made the connection between the social and environmental implications of where our food comes from. Most recently, Annie was an intern at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainabile Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz. She spent six months living and working on a 25-acre farm. "That experience," she said, "gave me the knowledge I needed to teach other people to grow their own food and start their own gardens." BUG was a natural next step for her, because she was also eager to give back to her alma mater, "which gave me a lot as a student."
Day in the life of BUG:
Since they are primarily in start-up phase, they are setting up systems in the Forge Garden, organizing their processes, and communicating a lot on e-mail. A typical day for one of the BUG crew members could involve meeting with teachers to coordinate lessons to support classroom curriculum, meeting with part-time employees who visit schools to teach (they're hiring student Garden Educators, by the way), and of course, working in the Forge Garden. BUG recently held a tree grafting workshop and has more workshops in the works (like Soil Fertility Management and Fruit Tree 101). These workshops are free and open to the public.
Marsha was sorting seeds--a box of seed packets donated to BUG. "See this organic radish seed packet?" she asked, "Look how they drew the radishes with some imperfections. The imperfections are helping to change our perception of beauty. So many people have an image of an 'ideal' fruit or vegetable - something with a perfect shape, no discoloration, no imperfections. This picture is helping us change our perception of "good" and realize what is delicious!" It's moments like that which elucidate BUG's momentum and drive. The BUG crew is energized and ready to provide fresh, local food and empower the community to make healthy decisions about where their food comes from.
Garden Planning Day Friday, February 26, 3pm-5pm
Come be apart of the participatory design process in planning The Forge Garden! Eat farm-fresh food while mapping out and planning different sections of the garden! Everyone is invited! Meet in the garden unless raining. If raining, an indoor meeting location will be posted on the entrance to the garden.
Fruit Tree 101 Workshop Sunday, February 28, 12pm-5pm
Marsha Habib and Annie Thomas will teach you how to plant and take care of young fruit trees. There will be food (yes, fruit-related items!). We will demonstrate planting on some of our new pomme fruit (apple and pears)so please wear comfortable, warm clothes; heavy rain cancels.
Volunteer Hours! Every Wednesday & Sunday 2pm-5pm Come take break from work, school or just come enjoy a day getting your hands dirty in your local community garden! Visit their web site to see photos and learn more.