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Davis, California

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Grow a passion for sustainable living in the EC Garden

If learning how to grow your own food is an interest of yours, you need to look no further than the Experimental College (EC) Community Garden.

Just behind Baggins End on the UC Davis campus, the EC Garden is a five-acre plot of land covered in an assortment of flowers, vegetables, fruit and nut trees and animals.

“Everything from corn to chickens to long lasting friendships are grown,” said Lauren Cockrell, the EC Garden head coordinator in an e-mail interview.

For $30 a year, a student or community member can choose a plot where they can grow their own fruits and vegetables, all without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. Each plot of land is approximately 200 square feet.

The EC Garden was created as an area for organic gardening in the 1970s and since has been a place where gardeners of all levels can learn about growing their own food.

“It’s a place where you can do something with your own hands and decrease your ecological footprint,” said Skyler Blakeslee, the EC Garden’s activities coordinator.

The garden strives for sustainability and uses only organic products to grow the plants and feed the animals.

To promote sustainability, the garden uses manure from the Dairy Barn, a waste product that would otherwise go to a landfill, Blakeslee said.

“We don’t need synthetic fertilizers and we don’t need fossil fuels to transport food to us. We use our own muscle power,” he said. Additionally, the EC Garden Animal Projects allows gardeners to raise small fowl or rabbits, helping to fertilize the garden and protect against weeds.

But sustainability is just one facet of what makes the EC Garden particularly unique. Being a community garden and a part of the university allows for an environment rich in a variety of plots.

This includes four free plots for freshmen, two areas for developmentally disabled adults and one area for a children’s garden, Crockrell said.

Cockrell, a sophomore international agriculture development major, has been a part of the garden since first attending UC Davis and sees many benefits for students who join.

“By being a part of the EC Garden, students gain knowledge about planting food and tending to animals, access to healthy, yummy, local food, new friends, a chance to hang out with professors in a different setting and a good way to de-stress from studying,” she said.

Community members are also finding the benefits of gardening at the EC Garden as well.

Kristal Jones, a Davis resident, has been gardening at the EC Garden since March and enjoys teaching her five-year-old son how to garden and watching her own garden grow.

“It’s a form of meditation, the digging. You get an appreciation of the process,” Jones said.

The garden, with its expansive, vegetative year-round setting, is also host to a variety of events, which have previously included art shows, live musicians and even a wedding.

Relatively new this year to the garden will be a newsletter, published with the EC publication, featuring different EC gardeners along with updates and advice for the planting season.

With the fall season ripe for broccoli, cauliflower, onions, greens, snow peas, garlic and carrots, students and community members can also take advantage of the garden’s pro-rated price of $20.

“I really want to reach out to people like myself who enjoy gardening and let them know that $20 is completely worth the plot, tools, advice and community that come with the EC Garden,” Cockrell said.

For more information or to start gardening at the EC Garden, e-mail Lauren Cockrell at ecgardens@ucdavis.edu.

JESSY WEI can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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