The arrival of spring allows for eager gardeners to put their green thumbs to work and grow an assortment of flowering plants. CSUSB’s Palm Desert Campus (PDC) took advantage of the season’s temperate weather with the creation of a community garden.
As a partnership between the campus and the city of Palm Desert, PDC has access to a plot of land near the campus at University Park to grow organic vegetables and produce. The garden is maintained by the campus and the university also covers the cost for water and plants.
This is the first year the garden has been in operation. The irrigation and plots were built during fall quarter 2017, and the first official planting took place later that December.
A donor in the Coachella Valley community has given the university $20,000 to cover the startup and maintenance costs. Seeds are provided to students and small plants are donated by a local nursery. Students can also provide their own seeds for vegetables.
Health Educator and Student Activities Coordinator Albert Angelo is in charge of coordinating the garden. Students who wish to grow vegetables contact him to secure a garden plot and can even join in the process of planting the crops.
“We started the garden with the help of a community ‘master gardener’ who instructed me on what vegetables to plant, when to plant them and how to space them in the garden plots,” Angelo said.
A new batch of garden plots were prepared on April 10, where students planted peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers and sunflowers.
The PDC student organization Peer Educators Advocating Campus Health (PEACHes) helped with the coordination of the community garden. PEACHes is comprised of students who educate the campus population about important health topics, participate in campus activities and promote the services offered at the Student Health Center (SHC).
“I got involved with the garden through the PEACHes organization here at PDC. Albert had brought it to our attention that we were already growing plants and even allowed us to pick our own produce to take home. We also held an activity of sorts for other students outside of the organization to plant their own seeds,” PDC student Victoria Ayala said.
Ayala found gardening to be a rewarding experience that she would recommend others partake in if they want a healthy pastime.
“This past week, we were planting a variety of saplings ranging from watermelons to eggplants. Gardening is so stress relieving, plus you can go home and enjoy the fact that you’re eating homegrown food,” Ayala said.
Angelo believes that the PDC community garden provides a number of benefits to the student body, and helps PEACHes goal of promoting health awareness.
“It promotes student engagement, it promotes the consumption of healthy foods and it promotes a close partnership between the university and the local community. It also is one additional way PDC can help address food insecurity since all produce is donated to students who are experiencing food insecurity,” Angelo said.