Healthy food, healthy living

Students will now have access to fresh produce thanks to the student food garden that’s coming to Pierce College.

Department chair for industrial technology Elizabeth Cheung and architecture technology professor Beth Abels are leading the project. They aim for the garden to be student-run and inspired.

“What we grow could be driven by what the desires and needs are and students could be involved in the actual growing and maintaining of the garden,” said Cheung.

The idea for the garden was brought up after Cheung and Abels heard of the high percentage of food insecure students in the Los Angeles Community College District.

They also wanted to find a way to integrate fresh produce into the options available for food insecure students.

“This is a place where it has a tradition of farming and it seemed like it made sense to start thinking about how could we grow fresh produce that would serve the pantry,” said Abels, “and serve S.T.A.S.H. and Art Soup so they can make soup with fresh produce.”

Several students are eager to take part in the creation and maintenance of the food garden. Students who took classes with Cheung and Abels last semester got to design systems that for the food garden.

“We have a new system,” said Abels, “They’re very little. It’s a fish pond thing that’s going to provide fish nutrients to the plants.”

Apart from students, faculty members have been just as involved. Life Science Department Chair Shannon Devaney has chosen to be involved in the project.

Devaney believes the garden will help alleviate the worry food insecure students have and give them healthier options to choose from.

“It’s hard trying to help someone learn when you know that they don’t have enough to eat and don’t have healthy food to eat,” said Devaney.

Life science students and the Symbiotix biology club are also making their contribution. Because of the life science classes they have taken they are able to apply what they learn.

“Life science does play into that because our students learn how plants grow, human nutrition and health, and can do experiments on how different sorts of plants grow better,” said Devaney.

The way that students can have access to the fresh produce the food garden will provide has yet to be established.

Cheung and Abels say they’d like to facilitate that process through a weekly booth.

“Like once a week, a kind of pop up where we’re out on the mall or somewhere visible with the recent harvest and people can just come and take what they want,” said Cheung.

The location for the food garden hasn’t been decided, but Cheung and Abels hope that it will be just in reach of the students.

“I think ideally it’s somewhere that’s visible but not maybe like right in the middle of the mall,” said Cheung, “Somewhere that it’s not super far away where it’s out of sight, out of mind.”

Students who’d like to take part in the creation of the food garden can contact Elizabeth Cheung, Beth Abels, or the Symbiotix biology club for more information.