Inside USD

Planting the Seeds of Sustainability

Thursday, September 24, 2009

plantmainNow this is hands-on learning.

The University of San Diego officially celebrated the creation of a student garden on Wednesday. A 50-by-10-foot plot of land behind Mission Crossroads represents the university’s latest effort toward promoting environmental conservation and sustainability.

This will be “an important piece of real estate” on the USD campus, said Michel Boudrias, associate professor of marine science and environmental studies and academic director for sustainability.

Boudrias, who also serves on USD’s Sustainability Task Force, said it was critical to have the garden close to where students live on campus so “we can connect them to (ideas) of sustainability from the get-go.”

In addition to connecting students to nature and promoting sustainability, there also will be an academic component, with classes and professors taking responsibility for plots in the garden. “The idea of a sustainability task force is to touch upon all the dimensions the students live with,” Boudrias explained.

Fred Rocha, Charlie Thomas and Ernie Salazar, all from Facilities Management, created the 500-square-foot plot. Auxiliary Services also helped with the project.

After a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony, students, staff and faculty got down to work, planting lettuce and cucumbers, along with herbs like basil and thyme.

“This is going to be huge for student life,” said Peter Larr, director of sustainability for Associated Students.

“It’s a stress-reliever and fun to be outside,” said Christy Clinton, a residential community director who said the experience brought back memories of working in the garden with her mother while growing up in Rancho Cucamonga.

Organizations taking responsibility for the initial five plots include Associated Students Sustainability, Residential Life and the Residence Hall Association, the Experiential Learning and Adventure Center, the Totally Rad Environmental Enthusiasts (TREE) student group and biology professor Lisa Baird’s plant physiology class. “Hopefully we’ll have salad by December,” Baird said.

— Liz Harman

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