The old saying is true we are what we eat, and how we produce our food is just as important. Sustainable living and responsible methods of agriculture are very important to the well being of our community and planet. The MiraCosta College Horticulture Department wants to share this issue not only with students studying in the field, but with faculty and the student body, children from visiting schools, and our neighboring community. Starting in 2013, the Horticulture Department began the design for a Teaching Garden to instruct students of all ages in sustainable fruit and vegetable production. The garden is set up as a “world garden” designed in the shape of a compass where each bed is oriented to represent its own specific region. Plants and vegetables are positioned in different quadrants as to their geographic positions on the earth. It has become a labor of love for several of the department classes: Landscape Design, Landscape Construction, Irrigation, Sustainable Horticulture and Plant Science. The garden was built not just for it’s educational purpose, but with the motive of teaching future generations about the practice of socially responsible food production.
MiraCosta’s Horticulture Department was recently awarded a $2,000 Grant to continue construction on its Teaching Garden. This grant came courtesy of the San Diego Ag in the Classroom Committee (SDAITC) a non-profit corporation, and an affiliate of San Diego County Farms Bureau. It was launched in 1996 by agriculturalists with intentions to advance agricultural education to students in San Diego county. MiraCosta’s Horticulture department faculty member Claire Ehrlinger states, “ The garden is set up as a “world garden,” designed in the shape of a compass where each bed is oriented to represent a specific region of the world. Garden beds are planted with vegetables and herbs which originate from its own specific region.” The grant will be used to purchase plants, fencing supplies and equipment, and educational signage. The garden is conceived with desire to serve MCC students and other K-12 schools, garden clubs and the neighboring community. The garden has been funded by generous donations from MiraCosta foundation, ASG, the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club, La Jolla Garden Club, The Resource Conservation District of San Diego, Netafim Irrigation, and Hunter Irrigation, in addition to this most recent grant. Through construction of the Teaching Garden the MCC’s Horticulture family wants to pass these practices on to the next generation of food producers and consumers as well.
The Horticulture Department offers degrees/certificate programs. A.A. degrees are offered in: Landscape Architecture, Landscape Management, Nursery/Horticulture Crop Production, and Certificates of Achievement in: Landscape Architecture, Landscape Management, Nursery/Horticulture Crop Production, and achievement certificates for: Irrigation Technology, Landscape Assistant, and Viticulture Technology. Yes winemaking ! They have various other fun clubs and activities that you can participate in by giving them the old thumbs up on the Horticulture department’s Facebook page, and keep up on fun and educational activities. All student volunteers are welcome to join in, just contact student worker and garden coordinator, Linda Villegas firstname.lastname@example.org, to coordinate volunteer assignments. Volunteers are encouraged to dress appropriately for outdoor work, and bring sunscreen and water.
Over the past few decades people are becoming aware of the benefits of locally grown, organic produce, and naturally they want to get involved. The aim of the Teaching Garden project is to provide fertile ground for an education in techniques of growing local produce. Responsible methods of Agriculture are good for our planet and health as well.
Until recently most Americans thought of a locally grown organic dietary choice as a bohemian, or “alternative” lifestyle choice, but now the trend we are seeing is that more people are becoming aware of the dangers of processed and genetically altered foods. Terms like gluten free, GMO, and grass fed once foreign to the average Joe, are now common place in restaurants and cafeteria lines across our country. Everyday new people are stopping to think, “Why not, it’s only the health of my family that is at stake here,” They now see that this is really the most important thing. MCC’s agricultural community champions this train of thought through hands on education, and a responsible work ethic. After all, what could be a better gift to give yourself and family than the knowledge to make better informed decision about what we put in our bodies, and how we impact our planet. Unlike many other issues that get us worked up these days, this is one that we have some degree of power over. MiraCosta’s Horticulture team see this as a chance to spread a little knowledge around the compost bin. The aim is for people to discover the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Locally grown food makes a quicker trip from farm, to grocery store, and most importantly to our family’s table. Many already subscribe to the practice of organic local eating. These “Locavores” pay close attention to what they put into their bodies, and tend to have less health issues than those who eat processed foods and pesticide riddled produce. MCC’s Teaching Garden’s goals include championing education in the sustainable living initiative of the SDAITC and other like minded organizations. Perhaps soon MiraCosta students and staff will be able to eat produce just like the “Locavore” as we see the Teaching Garden project progress. Possibly, we may be eating fruits and vegetables in the student center, and our food pantry program that were grown in our own backyard.