Earth day was on Friday, a reminder for people to celebrate the planet and make efforts toward sustainable living. To celebrate the holiday, the Students for Environmental Awareness held a tree planting at the community garden. Undeterred by dark clouds and the drizzling rain, over 40 students came to get their hands dirty and make campus a greener place.
Small groups of volunteers worked on the trees, digging holes and covering the planted saplings with mulch while they socialized. They planted apple and pear trees as well as the paw paw — a plant native to the United States that bears fruit that looks like a mango, but tastes of banana custard. In addition to new trees, volunteers planted new seeds in the plots in the vegetable garden including carrots, lettuce and broccoli.
The community garden is nestled in a clearing between the camps police office and parking lot 8, ironically near one of the two smoking areas on campus. It is far enough away, however, that the smell of cigarettes does not waft over to the garden.
Wooden benches sit under a pavilion in a circle near two picnic tables. Those who weren’t planting painted the benches and tables with clouds, mountains and colorful abstract shapes, marking the seating as part of the garden.
A free lunch was provided of vegetable soup, chicken and beans, most of which was quickly devoured. The scraps that were leftover were tossed in the garden’s compost bin, turning trash into future fertilizer.
Light rain kept the weather cool enough that it was easy to hang out and help. Those in attendance had a laid back vibe, moving easily between conversations and work. A few students brought speakers to play music which was later substituted for a real guitar and bongos. Several attendees gathered in a circle singing along to “7 Feathers” by Nhako and Medicine for the People.
Ryan Cortez, a junior majoring in biology, came to the event because his friend who is involved with the garden invited him. Cortez has a green thumb, himself.
“I have a garden at home,” he said. “I’ve grown watermelon, peas, broccoli, lettuce, chard, spinach, kale, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce. A bunch of stuff.”
In spite of his experiences, the tree planting was the first time Cortez visited the community garden. In the past, events at the garden hadn’t fit in with his schedule. As a first time attendee, he was impressed with the event.
Cortez said, “There’s a big turnout, people are interested in this. Even if it’s raining, they’re still coming.”