Written By Connie Yoon

As the world has become increasingly aware of the need for more sustainable practices, it has become common knowledge that eating locally where one can is the environmentally friendly way to go. For those that are financially able to, many have turned to locally grown produce and animal products. This not only supports local businesses, but also leaves a smaller carbon footprint on our planet. However, nothing gets more local or affordable than growing your own produce—and the UCSB Gets Growing education series has brought this option directly to students in an accessible manner.

The series aims to empower students to grow their own food supplies while reconnecting with the very land that nourishes us and makes all of life possible. While growing your own food may seem outlandish, expensive, and inconceivable, UCSB Gets Growing combats these concerns by making gardening more accessible and equipping students with the information and materials to access fresh, healthy food directly from their own homes. As remote learning and pandemic conditions continue, the program gives students an opportunity to get in touch with the outdoors in a way that is more important than ever before. 

Students who participate in the series attend six weekly workshops, all held remotely over Zoom, to learn topics such as growing herbs from seeds, growing plants from food scraps, and how to set up your own compost bins. All materials are delivered to the participants. They are able to learn how to garden indoors or on patios. Alternatively, the outdoor focus allows students to receive a plot at the Greenhouse and Garden Project or garden in their own yards. 

This series, led by students in the Edible Campus Program, was first held remotely over Summer 2020 and is currently ongoing during Fall 2020, with great success. They have received many applications and continue to have strong attendance. Because space is limited, UCSB Gets Growing prioritizes low-income students who have restricted access to fresh, healthy produce—enhancing their mission of fighting food insecurity in our very own backyards. However, Edible Campus Program will be expanding the series to offer more workshops starting in Winter 2021: an Introduction to Indoor Gardening series, an Advanced Indoor Gardening series, and a new Family-Student Gardening series. 

Here is a description of each series from the lead coordinator of the UCSB Gets Growing series:

The Introduction to Indoor Gardening UCSB Gets Growing series is the best option for students with little to no experience in gardening to try their hand at growing their own food. This version of the series is focused on growing food either indoors or on limited patio spaces so everything will be grown in containers. To learn more about this series and apply for participation, please visit this link!

The Advanced Indoor Gardening UCSB Gets Growing is catered towards students who have prior experience in gardening and would like to learn about some more advanced topics. Just like the introductory series, the Advanced UCSB Gets Growing series is also focused on growing produce either indoors or in small patio spaces. To learn more about this series and apply for participation, please visit this link!

Last but not least, Edible Campus Program will also be offering a Family-Student variation of the UCSB Gets Growing series in the Winter quarter. This series is excellent for children and their guardians to participate in as it will offer hands-on activities that allow for them to grow their groceries alongside one another. To learn more about this series and apply for participation, please visit this link!

“UCSB Gets Growing is an awesome way to introduce yourself to the practice of growing your own food,” says Anthony Singh (he/him), Lead Coordinator. He has been the Lead Coordinator of UCSB Gets Growing workshops for the Summer 2020 series and the indoor variation of the Fall 2020 series. 

Singh explains, “If you’re interested in learning more about gardening but find that you don’t know where to start, you’re held back by the costs of starting your garden, or would like some general guidance, participation in the series is perfect for you! Along with learning about gardening practices, you’ll also be introduced to broader efforts by communities to ensure food security for themselves and future generations, methods of getting involved in community gardens near you, and much more.”

Educational initiatives like these are the perfect opportunity for students to revolutionize the way they get their food, all while disrupting unsustainable food systems and getting back in touch with nature. Decrease your carbon footprint, reduce global warming, and grow your own seedlings with UCSB Gets Growing. 

If you have any questions about Edible Campus Program, UCSB Gets Growing, or general gardening questions, please reach out to Anthony at anthony_singh@ucsb.edu or message Edible Campus Program on Instagram @UCSBECP.