Virtual campus gardening at Stan State

Panelists at the Next Up: Forward Thinking event presented a look at how virtual community gardens continue to be just as beneficial as in person. People interact together online and share what they have grown. (Screenshot provided by Nicole Azof)

Recently, the virtual event Next Up: Forward Thinking, was held to discuss the effective strategies of students banding together to grow and flourish a community garden, fulfilling their basic needs, and collaborating with their community members. 

The event that took place on May 11 featured multiple panelists discussing how campus gardens can be a gateway to building a better food system while also being a valuable tool in building a sense of community. 

The panelists also discussed how food distribution helps to serve students who are often conflicted with their budget. It assists those who are faced with the challenge of deciding what to save and spend their money on.

“It’s about working together and giving back to the community as a whole,” panelist and Moderator Wendy Olmstead explains. 

Jeff Rivera, another speaker during the Next Up: Forward Thinking event, informed the audience that kids who learn gardening outdoors are more likely to grow their own food and eat those foods. 

Rivera recommends students who want to garden more to collaborate with experienced people, and overall, “be progressive, and be flexible.” 

Stan State offers many programs that continue to be helpful to the students, especially during the pandemic. One of the many ways they sustain their food resources is through growing a campus garden. Additionally, campus gardens as described by the panelists are one of the many ways to break down the barriers of our successes and share a common language with our community members. 

"What is our relationship to this land?" Rivera queried. Students are genuinely encouraged to explore their connections to the earth, and land they live on, while establishing connections with others.  

While a campus garden holds to potential to help many students in a variety of ways, Stan State offers many related resources to assist students.

The Basic Needs program at Stan State provides many resources to students to ensure they are able to acquire many valuable resources through a variety of different components of the program. 

Campus Cares provides assistance to students in the middle of a personal crisis. 

The Warrior Food Pantry is for students who experience food insecurity, (a state of being without reliable access to nutritious food), along with the CalFresh program which assists low-income students and their families in purchasing healthy food. 

In addition to taking advantage of these services, students are also taking  a step further in protecting their environment by maintaining their community gardens, which continue to flourish during the pandemic.  

Using the virtual gardens to interact with one another is a great way to build an overall community as the pandemic continues. With the help of social media students gathered together to virtually create a community garden, sharing what they were growing in their own gardens.

As Stan State continues to offer many resources to help improve the community, it is important to remember to maintain the sustainability of those sources. All it takes is putting our hearts and hands into the soil. 

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