Clark Kerr Campus Garden

A once overgrown and fallow garden at the Clark Kerr Campus, six blocks southeast of the main Berkeley campus, today is a thriving cluster of five large raised planters filled with student-grown seasonal herbs and produce that often are served in the Clark Kerr dining hall.

The well-kept garden, in one of the complex’s sunny courtyards, also includes blackberry, rosemary and pineapple guava bushes, kiwi vines and apricot and lime trees.

Established about five years ago by Cal Dining, the garden was designed to build community among the students living at Clark Kerr and to give them hands-on experience with the foods they eat. Unlike Berkeley’s high-rise residence halls, Clark Kerr – a group of Spanish mission-style buildings with grassy outdoor expanses – has ample space for a garden and a small orchard.

Student-run, the garden always has had volunteers, but committed replacements often were hard to find after they aged out of the Clark Kerr residence halls,. Now and then, senior citizens living nearby would tend the garden informally, enjoying the arugula and fruit they picked.

But Cal Dining’s hire in the summer of 2015 of two student sustainability coordinators to manage the garden has brought the project stability. They’ve revamped the soil, replanted the plots and built a list of volunteers – many of them living at Clark Kerr – who pitch in on Friday afternoons between noon and 3 p.m. Cal Dining’s four other sustainability coordinators also help.

Clark Kerr’s executive chef, Daniel Moreno, requests what he’d like planted in the raised beds –onions, arugula, rainbow chard, fava beans, fennel, mint, sage, basil, rosemary and cabbage are currently available – and add them to the wider range of ingredients his crew uses for meals. Extra produce goes to the UC Berkeley Food Pantry for students in need.