Community garden invites students to get their hands dirty

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Amanda Arroway | Asst. News Editor

The new community garden coming in at Riverside City College is gearing up for some big events this spring.

The garden, located adjacent to the Math and Science building on upper campus, is currently little more than a fenced-in dirt lot.

However, workshops are being planned to plant trees, build benches, and construct a gazebo before the garden is opened to students.

Accessibility ramps will also be constructed that meet regulations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Organizers hope that with the help of community and student volunteers, the area will eventually yield organic fruit and vegetables, as well as providing an outdoor lab for students.

The project was initiated by RCC faculty, students and community members “to learn, teach and encourage sustainability through local food production and community building.”

“The community garden is another example of RCC’s commitment to environmental sustainability and community involvement,” said RCC President Cynthia Azari. “It will be an extraordinary learning environment for everyone.”

When completed, the garden will join a number of established sustainable gardens emerging throughout Riverside that participate in the Riverside Garden Council.

Through the council, RCC will be able to help connect interested parties with gardening and volunteer opportunities in Riverside.

A $1,000 donation from Calvary Presbyterian and the Wood Streets Green Team helped to complete nearly two years of planning on the site, which was previously used as a parking lot.

The donation will go to purchasing key features of the garden, such as fruit trees and benches.

Also planned at the site are entrance arbors to support grape and kiwi vines, and the gazebo to be used for assorted outdoor gardening workshops.

The garden arises from the strong relationship between the college and the surrounding Wood Streets neighborhood.

The Wood Streets Green Team is a nonexclusive group of Riverside residents that seek to provide resources to help people lead more sustainable lives.

The group hosts assorted workshops on everything green from energy and water efficiency, to edible gardening and even sustainable child rearing.

RCC provides workshop and meeting locations for the Green Team, as well as its sister groups, Neighbors of the Wood Streets and the Historic Wood Streets Association.

The Green Team also hosts a “How-To-Garden Tour” as a part of their annual Eco-Fair. The tour has risen over $5,000 over the last three years to support local community gardens.

This year’s Eco-Fair will take place at RCC on Sunday, April 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be followed by the How-To-Garden Tour.

The first workshop is planned for Sunday, March 24 at 10 a.m. and will break ground to plant the first trees in the garden. The workshop is to be followed by a community potluck.

As the garden nears completion, planners involved expect to schedule regular workshops every Saturday beginning April 6 at 3:30 p.m. and going until 6:30 p.m.

Workshops will focus on different gardening techniques including pest management, composting, insect control, companion planting, and pruning.

“The more student volunteers, the better,” Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Physiology Preston Galusky said. “It’s going to be a learning experience for all of us.”

Anyone with an interest in learning about gardening and sustainability is strongly encouraged to volunteer.

Volunteers are needed for assorted tasks such as earth moving and constructing arbors.

Construction on the gazebo will begin in about six weeks, and crews will be building and sealing benches for the site before that time.

Students looking for more information or to volunteer are encouraged to leave a message with Preston Galusky at (951)-222-8361.

Anyone interested in joining the Wood Streets Green Team can visit them online at Woodstreetsgreenteam.org to see their 2013 strategic plan and sign up for their email list of upcoming events.

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