New gardening class takes root on campus
Get ready to harvest a bushel of homegrown tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans and basil right from your backyard garden or containers on your apartment balcony.
A six-week Saturday class geared to turn faculty and staff into green-thumbed organic gardeners adept at planting fruit trees, using natural “pesticides” like marigolds to keep your plants bug-free and composting with worms is being offered this spring for the first time by UCLA Recreation at the E3 Community Garden.
Organic gardening is not only part of the sustainability movement to grow nutritious food locally, but it resonates well with the FITWELL initiative that encourages faculty and staff to take control of their own health and well-being.
“There’s been a lot of focus on getting fit through exercise,” said Tracie Lockwood, director of youth and instructor programs for UCLA Recreation. “But our department is also moving into total lifestyle education.” And gardening is a lifestyle choice that provides exercise as well as good, healthy edibles for the family.
Providing hands-on training as well as seedlings for your home garden will be Rosa Romero, a certified master gardener and graduate of a rigorous UC Cooperative Extension program. Romero has taught schoolchildren as well as community members how to garden in schools as well as community gardens. A UCLA alumna and preschool teacher, Romero volunteers with Common Ground, a UC Cooperative Extension program that teaches gardening to many Los Angeles County residents, particularly low-income families in traditionally underrepresented communities.
“Food brings a lot of community together,” said Romero, “because we all have to eat.” But when she was growing up in urban L.A., she didn’t even know where tomatoes came from. Once, when she was showing a group of L.A. children a banana tree, the first most had ever seen, “one little boy looked at the bananas and asked me where the stickers were,” Romero said, laughing.
Romero’s demonstration garden for the class is a plot of land with five 8-foot-by-12-foot raised beds located at the back of Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. The garden was created by and is run by E3 (ecology, economy and equity), a group of more than 30 UCLA students who are fired up by the grow-your-own sustainable ethic. What they don’t consume is distributed to the homeless in Santa Monica.
Romero stresses that having a backyard is not a requirement for gardening. “Right now, I have no land. My vegetables grow in containers. And I have been growing a lot of food.” Apartment residents can experiment with setting up vertical gardens.
Romero’s students will be learning organic gardening from the ground up, testing their home soil, learning to make use of household throwaways and using natural pesticides and fertilizers. She’s covering root vegetables, edible flowers, herbs, landscaping basics, and spring vegetables in six weekly sessions. There will be two guest speakers, specialists in composting with worms and how to make herbal teas and infusions. There will be recipes to try and a garden potluck at the completion of the class.
Organic Gardening 101 is open to all recreation members. There is a fee of $65. Students are advised to bring gloves and trowels to class. See this for more information.
Published: Monday, July 05, 2010