Learning Garden growing at SMC

As spring turned into summer one might have noticed Santa Monica College’s new garden, the Organic Learning Center, located just west of the Arts building. Faculty advisor for Club Grow, Dana Morgan, and the Associated Students, among many others, have dedicated much time and effort to this new project.

The project started off as a student group advised by Dave Phillips, it became known as the Dirtfarmers.

After Morgan joined the effort, it would eventually be decided that the new project would be made up of faculty and students under the more formal name of Club Grow.

Morgan was awarded her sabbatical to research gardens and gardening education in the spring of 2010. “I explored integrating gardens and gardening into my curriculum, attended gardening classes, and visited several gardens to see how they were managed, and how they educated their participants.

I became convinced that we needed a garden at SMC. Indeed, that every college campus should have a garden where the students can learn to grow food,” says Morgan.

The garden was built to help students learn about irrigation, climate, and the traditions of their elders, to teach them to work together and grow their own food.

As the garden continues to grow, students hopefully will be able to master cooking techniques and cultivate a better understanding of our planet’s stewardship.

A bigger unveiling of the garden’s progress is set to take place sometime in November, when Morgan hopes the garden will be green.

Plans of expanding the garden are still up in the air, but with time, we could see the Organic Learning Center grow.

Funding might become rather expensive, but at the moment, Morgan said that “The Associated Students [allocated] $11,000 to maintain and support the garden over the next two years."

Erik Zavala, a key member of Club Grow, is very excited to finally see years of paperwork turned into a reality. “I enjoy it a lot. It’s a life lesson, teaching students how to grow their own food,” says Zavala.

Although the garden is enclosed, it is meant for everyone. “Feel free to come check the progress of the plants,” says Zavala.

“The gates to the garden are open during daylight hours,” adds Morgan.

Most, if not all of the plants will be labeled - for identification and for students’ learning pleasure.

“When you think of the garden, you should think ‘student-driven’, because students came together and made this happen,” says Zavala.