Sustainable gardens are changing college campuses

Megan Chen, Reporter

Rows of vegetables and fruits line a small garden bed in front of the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. Tall tomato cages and an irrigation system fill out the scene. Inside the dining hall, a small greenhouse stands out among the busy commotion of the Stanford University campus.

10 small vegetable gardens run by the Sustainable Food Program and the Residential and Dining Services at Stanford are located in front of every dining hall. These gardens provide much of the produce that the students eat everyday. They also serve as teaching resources for students that want to learn more about the seasonality of food, what foods grow in what seasons, the botany of fruits and vegetables and agro-ecological methods of sustainable food production.

According to Kim Ratcliff, a writer for the Residential and Dining Services, these gardens were created because “if we grow all of our food here and then we use it in the dining halls like AFDC think about how much that saves in gas, for airplanes, trucks that deliver food, etc.”

Ratcliff also discussed another program at Stanford called “Ugly Produce” which helps out local farmers.

“We purchase ugly produce which might be misshapen or discolored and we will use it in our kitchens,” Ratcliff said. “It still tastes very delicious, but if we did not use it, it would have been thrown away.”

Although these gardening practices take place in a larger college setting, there are many ways that people can start their own garden. After talking to Chloe Lemons, who runs many of the gardens at Stanford, she explained that all around California there are other practices being used.

“Some people like to try and focus on building the soil so that you can actually use the carbon from the atmosphere to help your garden,” Lemons said. “Some people like to reduce the space between people and where their food is coming from so that there are not super long supply chains.”

In the end, sustainability is not a simple issue but there are many things that everyone can do to help create a greener and safer planet. An example is to recycle all of the scraps from meals and turn them into compost, which is a practice that Stanford currently uses. If you are interested in starting your own garden, Chloe recommends to “start small and start with what you like because it is a lot of trial and error. My tip would just be to not worry about killing plants because you have to learn.”

Sustainable gardening in colleges and at homes is not only something that we can do right now to help our world, but something we can use to teach the future as to how they can continue to help the planet.