In North Berkeley, on about a quarter-acre of university land, the UC Berkeley Student Organic Garden has remained 100 percent student-run since its creation in 1971. There, students teach each other about organic gardening, horticulture, experimental education and food justice. Sometimes the garden provides a tranquil place to decompress from classes, papers and exams.
“The garden is a gem, and a place to feel safe on a very big campus and to have a relaxing conversation with another student volunteer,” says Sara Cate Jones, one of the garden leaders. “When I need to relax during the most stressful times, this is the place I go.”
Several De-Cal (Democratic Education at Cal) classes are held each school year “to ensure student stewardship of the garden,” says Jones. They include “Garden Leadership and Management,” “Berkeley Urban Garden Internship” and “Intro to Organic Gardening.”
The Student Organic Garden Association always seeks student volunteers. Those who can run garden arts and crafts workshops or teach others to make compost or do garden maintenance especially are needed, as are students with social media and public outreach skills.
In recent years, workshop topics have included succulent propagation and transplanting, and a garden workday and harvest party typically is held in late August.
Produce harvested at the garden is shared by those who grow it, the community and the UC Berkeley Student Food Pantry.