Hello friends of Bronco Urban Gardens!
It's been a while since we've updated our blog and I just wanted to fill you in on what's happened at BUG this academic year.
Alma Verde- has wrapped up it's academic year with a bang. Programs like comida in conversation and after school art were a big success. We had to say goodbye to our AmeriCorps volunteers Amanda and Kiara who are already off on the their next adventures. Recently Nicole has been working on straw bale planting beds- where vegetables are planted directly into old straw bales. Meanwhile preparations are being made for the new batch of AmeriCorps this fall!
Gardener Academy- welcomes both Sarah and Julie to our AmeriCorps crew! They had a late start but have made amazing progress. The program had a lull of employees and most of the garden had to be re-established. It's currently pumped full of tomatoes and squash and their irrigation system is new and improved. Now through the end of July, Sarah and Jule have classes in the garden with the Gardner Boys and Girls Club and Estrella Family Services. They will be planting, tasting fruits and vegetables and using all five senses to learn about the garden ecosystem!
The Forge- has had MAJOR renovations this year. They constructed an orchard fence, a hoop house, trellis's and installed a new chicken coop. Santa Clara university has also increased their support of the project by installing a new-to-us fence and moving the '07 solar decathlon competition house to the garden as BUG offices. Check out their Facebook page for photos and updates. Summer is hot and the volunteers are winding down but they still have interns and kids coming through the garden till the end of July. Work days are also happening but are a little more limited so check in with them for hours.
Thank you guys for your continued support and interest in Bronco Urban Gardens.
Amongst students and staff at Santa Clara University, there has been an enthusiastic buzz around the new Bronco Urban Gardens (BUG) program. Though BUG is most commonly known around campus for the main half-acre educational and community garden (located at the corner of Sherman and Benton St.), "The Forge" is just one of numerous places and activities in which BUG is involved.
The BUG staff, comprised of 3 full time and 4 part time Americorps volunteers, has been busy creating community gardens and garden education programs in low-income districts in San Jose, CA. In just the past three months, BUG has been able to touch a variety of different community members and organizations in the Washington, Gardner and Alma neighborhood.
of these activities include providing a series of trainings for adults
on a variety of topics related to small-scale sustainable agriculture;
developing a curriculum and teaching garden and nutrition education
classes weekly in 10 different classes, grades K-5, at Rocketship Mateo
Sheedy and Gardner Elementary; creating a youth garden program that
works with at-risk students at Washington Elementary twice a week
during lunch time; and working at Alma Youth Center to start a garden
and engage youth in garden and nutrition activities.
Over spring break, we welcomed the help of two SCU immersion trips at two of BUG’s major hubs. The Central Valley Immersion trip got their hands dirty on their first day of break working alongside Gardner Academy parents, students, teachers and administrators clearing cover crop and digging beds for the elementary school’s new garden. Later in the week, we were joined by Santa Clara University’s Spring Break Urban Plunge group who passionately helped us turn compost piles at Gardner Academy and double dug beds at the Alma Youth Center’s new garden.
Now that spring is upon us, the pollinators are buzzing and plants are growing fast, BUG needs a strong community of students, staff and community members willing committed to being apart of a movement to increase food security, sustainability and environmental literacy in our own community! There are many ways to get involved: come help us during our volunteer hours at the Forge garden on Wednesdays and Saturdays (changed from Sundays) from 2-5pm, volunteer through Arrupe at one of our garden education classes, or attend one of the series of workshops provided by BUG. For more information visit the volunteer and internship page of our website!
By Marsha Habib BUG Americorps Volunteer
If you have walked past the corner of Sherman and Benton streets and peered through the fence, you have surely seen the once vacant lot transform over the past few months. Following our collective design day last October, Annie Thomas, James Hanold and Marsha Habib, the three full time members of the BUG (Bronco Urban Garden) program, have been digging and forking away in the garden, of sweat, love and
creativity! The three BUGies have since been joined by Kristine Keller and Steven Smoker, as well as a small but committed number of awesome volunteers on our work days. The lot is gradually transforming into a space for production cycles, education, collaboration and creation. The cover crop which we sowed back in December is coming up densely in the garden beds, breaking up compaction and providing biomass and habitat for life in the soil. The corn stalks (seeds from El Salvador) in the back corner of the plot have turned golden and the ears have been harvested and saved for planting out again next season. The swan neck bird cage and canteen gourd plants from last season have senesced and the molds are working their way around the skins, leaving beautiful patterns to be captured in the musical instruments or bowls that will be made out of them. Those of us who have been working out here have enjoyed the butternut squash, chard and collards of last years’ students' labor. We have a straw bale classroom which is being put to use by several of Patrick Archie's classes, as well as spontaneous Capoeira games. Watch for the sweet pea flowers vining up along the perimeter. These El Nino rains should help them germinate and wrap their tendrils up the fence. The huge black pile of compost is gradually diminishing as we incorporate it into the soil and spread it as a side dressing into the existing beds- - a welcome donation from the municipal land fill. We have built our own compost pile out of the crop residue from last season, mulch and grass clippings from campus lawns, which is heating up and breaking down. Our winter vegetables are in the ground and slowly sizing up during this period of short day length and cool temperature. Our winter crops include lettuces, leeks, carrots, cauliflower, collards, chard and cabbages. On Friday, February 26th from 3-5 p.m. we will host our second garden design party. On Sunday, February 28 from 12-5 p.m. we are having a Fruit Tree 101 Workshop. Both of these events will take place in “The
Forge” Garden which is located at the corner of Sherman & Benton streets. We hope to have more of you join us in the garden! Our volunteer work days are every Wednesday and Sunday from 2- 5 p.m.
ESI, working in partnership with Campus Facilities is leading the effort to build a new education and community garden for SCU on the vacant lot at the corner of Benton and Sherman streets a block north of campus. The garden will serve both the campus and the community as an educational facility, a source of healthy food, and a beautiful place to come together.
Students in ENVS 132 Agroecology dug the first garden beds and planted the first crops during the spring quarter. Currently, most of the lot is covered in wood chips that were diverted from the landfill (approximately 60, 15 cubic yard truckloads!). These wood chips are part of an organic soil-building program designed to bring the soil back to life so that it can produce lots of food and a great diversity of beautiful plants.
For the last year and half students in several ESI classes have participated in garden design workshops, working in small groups contributing their ideas for what they would like to have in the garden and how they would structure it.
On Friday October 23rd at 2:30 PM we are having a Garden Planning Party. Everyone is invited to come and share their ideas for what should be in the garden and what it should it look like. All the drawings that students have done will be on display. We’ll use them as a starting point to collectively come up with a design for the garden that afternoon.
We’ll spend the rest of the year building out the garden according to our community design. There will be lots of work parties and workshops and tons of great food and good times. Hope to see you in the garden!