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An Addition to the Forge Garden
Santa Clara University’s Forge Garden, a half-acre organic garden that’s been active since 2009, has a new addition: the University’s 2007 Solar Decathlon house.
The house, which won third place in the international Solar Decathlon competition, serves as an office for the Forge Garden’s new organic garden manager, Rose Madden, and provides volunteers with a sink and restroom. It has also been the setting for movie nights and other community-building events.
“It makes the garden feel more like a place people can be comfortable,” said Lindsey Cromwell Kalkbrenner, director of the University’s Office of Sustainability. “It’s nice to be able to keep that history on campus and keep it accessible.” The half-acre garden, located one block from Lucas Hall at the corner of Benton and Sherman Streets, is meant to foster a culture of sustainability. Classes can meet there—whether it’s a modern dance class that is learning to “express some of the sensory experience” at the garden or a biology class doing research on how leaves biodegrade, Kalkbrenner said.
Student organizations also use the garden for community building: having a volunteer day, for example, where their members can plant, weed, or turn compost. A floor from a residence hall may do this as a social activity.
The garden is also used to build community for the broader community. There are workdays on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m. when volunteers can flex their green thumbs. “The primary audience is the campus, but neighbors are welcome to come during those times, too,” Kalkbrenner said.
The house is also a model of practical sustainable living.
“It’s something that people can be in and use and maybe not even realize that it’s different,” Kalkbrenner said. “When we’re talking about establishing a culture of sustainability, we really want sustainability to be the norm.”