Happy New Year!

Hello from the Westmont Gardens! 2016 is already off to a wonderful, rainy start – and we are thrilled to have Westmont students and faculty back on campus. First, I would like to introduce myself – I am Michelle Aronson, the new Garden Manager & Sustainability Coordinator for Westmont Dining.

Michelle

My background is in education, sustainable farming, and the culinary arts, and my life passion is all things in the realm of food and farming. I am thrilled to be a part of this special community and am eager to get growing!

The new year is one of the most exciting times to be a gardener. There are few things that are more enjoyable than sifting through stacks of seed catalogs full of unique fruit and vegetable varieties, and dreaming up a new season of bountiful harvests.

garden

This year, the Westmont Dining Garden Program hopes to scale up production, to provide even more fresh fruits and vegetables to be used by our chefs in the Dining Commons. We also hope to increase student awareness and involvement in the Garden Club, which meets every week to work in the garden, go on farm tours, enjoy potluck meals, and much more. The Garden Club also hopes to establish a more formalized student-led Sustainability group, which will work implement more environmentally friendly options around campus. If you would like to learn more about the Garden Club, send us an email: westmont.garden@gmail.com.

Better yet, join in our first workday! Friday, January 15th from 3pm-5pm. We will first meet in the Track Garden. (If you need directions, email westmont.garden@gmail.com)

Back to the gardens themselves... we are grateful for all the much needed rain, thanks to this year’s El Nino! Maggie Iba, Westmont’s wonderful previous Garden Manager/Sustainability Coordinator, planted lots of winter cover crops and other cool weather veggies, which are happily sprouting thanks to all the moisture in the soil.

sugar snap

In addition to lots of flourishing greens and herbs growing this time of year, the garden also has figs + strawberry guavas galore!

figs

guavas

Hungry yet? :)

We hope to see you in the garden for another wonderful growing season! Please do join us this Friday in the Track Garden from 3pm-5pm for our first Garden Club workday of 2016.

A Rainy Day Reflection on the Drought.

The first rain of the season has come about a month earlier this year. It is a very welcomed visitor indeed.

Many people have been curious about how the drought has been affecting the garden. I wonder if because we as a culture are so disconnected from our natural environment, we don’t really know how, or even if, things are being affected. We hear about this extreme drought and see the brown, but are not really sure what that it means in the ecosystem. The lack of water, the higher temperatures and the dryer air have been affecting everything, and the garden is just part of that.

In the garden specifically, the drought has bought imbalance. Nature is always trying to find a sweet spot where organisms keep each other in check. With the lack of water, and thus plant growth in the surrounding areas, there has been a higher concentration of earwigs and other pests that have found a haven in the garden. This has made direct seeding plants very difficult. The gophers have also become more desperate in their search for water.

The soil of the garden has also gone into a state of dormancy. Moisture is required for bacteria and fungi to break down organic matter, as well as the transportation of nutrients and the overall health of the soil. With the soil as dry as it is, there is very little life outside of the irrigated areas.

It is my hope and prayer that this rain marks the end of our dry dormant season and that it will come fuller and more often.

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Westmont Sustainability Meeting

On June 21st a group of persons interested in sustainability at Westmont gathered together to discuss steps towards a wider discussion/implementation of these topics on campus. This meeting, which was called by the VP of Administration and Planning Chris Call, was attended by representatives from all areas of campus: faculty – Paul Willis, Wayne Iba, Campus Planning – Randy Jones, Physical Plant – Tom Beveridge, John Housh, Auxiliary Services – Bill Groeneveld, Library – Robin Lang, Dining Services – Anthony Waldrop, Provost – Mark Sargent, Student Life – Stu Cleek, and a student representative by e-mail – Shea Werner.

The meeting discussed some of the little things on campus that could be done to increase sustainability, what sustainability could be defined as, and and what next steps are to be taken. The consensus was that an inter-departmental task force with a direct communication line to the E-team, would be the best method for setting a framework, measuring progress, and focusing on both large and small things that Westmont as an institution can do to further sustainability.

We at dining services are excited to see the fruits of this meeting!