For those who wonder what it would be like to grow your own eggplant and eat it too, the Experimental College (EC) Garden invites you to come see for yourself.
The organic community garden has existed at its current location just south of the Domes and west of the Colleges on La Rue Road for more than 35 years.
The EC Garden spans approximately 4.5 acres in size, and boasts over 500 plots that are maintained by more than 200 gardeners. Among them are UCD students, staff and faculty, as well as community members and even some out-of-city visitors.
“It’s an extension of the land grant institution that UC Davis itself already is,” said Tim Quick, the Community Garden Coordinator of the EC Garden for the last four years. “There’s plenty of space available … and still another acre of land that can be developed.”
Two hundred square foot plots are available for $20 from September through February and $30 from March through August.
Additionally, the EC Garden offers work-trade as an alternative to paying the price. By doing this, gardeners may perform volunteer work hours in which they can choose to maintain paths, pull weeds, prune plants or complete any other number of tasks in order to offset the cost of their plots.
Despite recent cuts to the university, Quick said that the garden is self-sufficient, and will not have to rely on money allotted to the EC in its yearly budget.
“The garden is situated to succeed … demand is pretty high right now [and] instead of taking money from the EC, it will probably support the EC for a while.”
But the EC isn’t receiving all the benefits of the garden. Growers, too, have cut back on grocery costs by growing their own fruits and vegetables.
“Well, I never have to buy produce in the summer now,” said Marion Adams, garden mentor and UCD graduate in soil science.
However, she may have a bit of an advantage over other, newer gardeners. With 12 plots and an assortment of crops, including asparagus, eggplant, corn, figs, butternut squash, basil, lemongrass and some perennials, Adams’ may be an unusually successful case.
“There isn’t much financial benefit to having such a small amount of space,” Adams said. “I don’t think people should go in for [that].”
Carolyn Cary and James Kwong have found other reasons for renting plots. Cary, a first-year environmental toxicology major, decided to rent out a plot after hearing about it from chemistry professor, Andreas Toupadakis. After convincing Kwong, a first-year clinical nutrition major, to do it with her, they set out to find a plot right for them.
“It’s actually really nice here, very therapeutic … I’m pretty thankful to have it,” Cary said.
Though they have just arrived at Davis, Cary and Kwong are not the only ones to find enjoyment at the garden.
“I had a grad student tell me once that he wouldn’t have made it through college without the EC Garden … he got peace there,” Quick said.
The EC is in the process of hiring two new individuals to fill the positions of maintenance coordinator and garden coordinator. Many veteran gardeners remain to help newcomers through a mentoring program Quick has set-up.
Quick continues to encourage more students to become involved and share in the experience as he did.
“If it wasn’t for the EC Garden, I wouldn’t have gotten what I came to UC Davis to get … it rounded out my education,” he said.
KYLE SPORLEDER can be reached at email@example.com.