The Edible Education Garden at Bakersfield College
By Lindsay Ono, Associate Professor of Environmental Horticulture, BC
They say it takes a village to raise a child. An entire community of people who provide a place for the young to learn, experience and grow. At Bakersfield College, we believe that learning is more than what you can learn from a textbook. Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience. Students become engaged intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, or physically. A new community project will foster this diversity of learning, the Bakersfield College Edible Education Garden. The project broke ground on Friday, November 19, 2021.
The Agriculture, Nutrition and Culinary Arts Departments at Bakersfield College and community leaders from the Grimm Family Education Foundation and Adventist Health are teaming together to teach future generations of Renegades, from preschool to college age, how to grow environmentally friendly and lead healthier lifestyles with fresh produce.
“If you give a person a vegetable, they eat for a day. If you teach them to sow… Watch them grow!”L. Ono
The Bakersfield College Edible Education Garden is sowing the seeds of knowledge about the joys of gardening, healthy foods, and good nutrition. “The Edible Education Garden is an exciting adventure into growing naturally, cooking the foods you harvest and improving our nutritional lifestyle,” said, Lindsay Ono, Professor of Ornamental Horticulture. “Students participating in this program will grow it, cook it and love it.”
Dean of Instruction, Jessica Wojtysiak says this space is about learning as much as it is about providing students an equitable option to sustainably grown and nutritious food. She says, “The Bakersfield College Edible Garden illustrates our campus commitment to our core values of learning, sustainability, wellness, and community. Through BC’s Agriculture, Nutrition, and Culinary Arts Pathway, the Renegade Community will now have the opportunity to grow healthy food within a local garden, in a sustainable way, while learning the skills and values that will propel them into successful careers and promote food security.”
The garden is located in Renegade Park just off Mt. Vernon Avenue. Construction is underway with the first harvest anticipated for spring 2022. Greeting students and visitors as they enter the Edible Education Garden will be a landscaped waterwise pollinator garden. A habitat of plants that feed the pollinating hummingbirds, bees and butterflies that are an integral part of the garden ecosystem.
The half-acre garden will grow many common vegetables like, tomatoes, chili peppers and lettuce. It will also grow some not so common edibles, wasabi arugula and Carolina reapers. Fruit in many different forms will dot the garden, peaches, plums, grapes, blueberries and more.
Students will learn how to grow and care for the wide range of crops using a method of agriculture called biointensive permaculture, an environmentally friendly growing process that emphasizes soil ecology and fertility, plant health, composting and integrated pest management practices. It will also incorporate hydroponic systems to grow produce for the program year-round in greenhouses.
To promote healthy diets and lifestyles, nutrition and culinary arts instructors will teach students about food nutrition, food safety, teach culinary skills and how to prepare vegetables and fruits for healthy and tasteful meals. Any excessive produce harvested will be given to the Renegade Pantry, a student assistance program to support students in need.
As the campus continues to expand and transform with new buildings and gardens, including a future Agriculture building, we welcome the new Bakersfield College Edible Education Garden to usher in a new time of growth and learning. Soon, the community will benefit from the harvest.