Food Garden propels students to interact with environment

Dr.+Mario+Giraldo+and+his+Geography+404+class+work+in+the+garden+which+contains+peppers%2C+pumpkins+and+rare+plants+like+Peruvian+native+plant+and+Amaranthus.+%0APhoto+Credit%3A+Leah+Arzu+%2F+Sundial+Staff
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Food Garden propels students to interact with environment

Dr. Mario Giraldo and his Geography 404 class work in the garden which contains peppers, pumpkins and rare plants like Peruvian native plant and Amaranthus. 
Photo Credit: Leah Arzu / Sundial Staff

Dr. Mario Giraldo and his Geography 404 class work in the garden which contains peppers, pumpkins and rare plants like Peruvian native plant and Amaranthus. Photo Credit: Leah Arzu / Sundial Staff

Dr. Mario Giraldo and his Geography 404 class work in the garden which contains peppers, pumpkins and rare plants like Peruvian native plant and Amaranthus. Photo Credit: Leah Arzu / Sundial Staff

Dr. Mario Giraldo and his Geography 404 class work in the garden which contains peppers, pumpkins and rare plants like Peruvian native plant and Amaranthus. Photo Credit: Leah Arzu / Sundial Staff

Candice Criss

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Dr. Mario Giraldo and his Geography 404 class work in the garden which contains peppers, pumpkins and rare plants like Peruvian native plant and Amaranthus.  Photo Credit: Leah Arzu / Sundial Staff

Dr. Mario Giraldo and his Geography 404 class work in the garden which contains peppers, pumpkins and rare plants like Peruvian native plant and Amaranthus.
Photo Credit: Leah Arzu / Sundial Staff Reporter

 

The CSUN campus is abundant with unique gardens and vegetation that provide both a tranquil atmosphere and an interactive learning experience. The CSUN Food Garden is no exception and provides students with a wonderful platform for interaction with their environment.

In 2010, Dr. Erica Wohldmann founded the Food Garden with the hope of teaching students about sustainable food systems, the importance of taking care of the environment and being aware of what kind of foods we put into our bodies.

“We discuss issues such as pollution, biodiversity loss, health problems and other social and environmental impacts of our food choices,” Wohldmann said.

“This garden was meant to serve as a venue for teaching these concepts, as well as providing a space for learning how to garden and grow food with other like-minded students.”

Ever since Food Garden was established, students have been able to be a part of maintaining it by volunteering or registering in its service learning program. Professor Mario Giraldo, assistant professor of geography, currently manages the garden and serves as its campus representative.

Giraldo, an agronomist who specializes in the study of plants and soils in the environment, has been involved with the garden for three semesters and has plenty of experience with gardening.

“Sustainability was a big topic back in third world countries,” Giraldo said. “I have experience in Costa Rica, Colombia and other places.”

The goal for Giraldo’s field study course is to learn about waste diversion, food production and sustainability.

“[The students] need to understand the whole process of waste management and diversion within the big picture of sustainability,” Giraldo said.

He believes that the best way to teach students about sustainability is to give them a hands-on experience. In order to instill that ideology, Giraldo has given his students the responsibility of visiting and maintaining the garden for at least 10 hours each semester outside of his required course activities.

Nick Alder, geography major, is one of Giraldo’s students, interested in what working in the garden can teach him and his classmates.

“We’re getting started with composting and getting ready to plant our first plants,” Alder said. “We’re hoping to get field experience in how we collect data on soil samples so we can map it all out.”

Giraldo also wants his students to have a deeper connection and understanding of where the food they eat comes from.

“For a lot of people there is not a connection between a cow and meat or milk,” Giraldo said. “A lot of people see it in the grocery store and think of it as just a product.”

Giraldo hopes that giving students the responsibility of keeping their plants alive will give them a better sense of what food production demands.

The students also get to work with compost in order to learn how things that are thrown out can be reused in beneficial ways through gardening. The students can choose to grow whatever they like and eat what they produce.

The Food Garden, located between CSUN’s baseball and softball fields, has not just been a place to work and learn but also an environment where students are able to share great moments.

“Students and I organized potlucks, movie nights, art exhibits… all sorts of fun events in the garden  and, of course, we snacked on the food that we grew at the garden workdays,” Wohldmann said.

If you are interested in contributing to the garden, please visit their website: http://www.csun.edu/sustainability/projects/food-garden/