Welcome back!

Hello friends of the Westmont Gardens! It’s hard to believe that it is already September, and everyone is back on campus for an awesome new school year. While things are certainly quieter at Westmont over the summer, the student garden employees and I can assure you that the gardens have been bursting with all kinds of delicious fruits, veggies, herbs and fresh eggs (from our beautiful flock of hens) all summer long!

We are so excited to kick off the school year with our first Garden & Sustainability Club workday: Friday, September 1st from 3pm-5pm in the TRACK GARDEN (located behind the Track, as the name suggests)! We will be giving a tour of the garden, getting our hands dirty with some tasks, and enjoying some refreshing iced tea while getting to know each other. All are welcome!
For those of you who would like to work in the garden, but can’t make the Friday at 3pm-5pm time slot, here are the other days and times every week when there are open garden volunteer hours. If you would like to come on any of these days, please send an email to maronson@westmont.edu.
  • Mondays @ 3pm-5pm
  • Tuesdays @ 10am-11am
  • Wednesdays @ 3pm-5pm
  • Thursdays @ 10am-11am

Thanks to all the hard work from student garden helpers Kenny and Frannie – the garden looks more beautiful and bountiful than ever! Here are some photos to catch you up on all that’s taken place in the garden this summer…

The Westmont Gardens are supported by Sodexo’s Dining Services team, as a way to bring more fresh, local produce to the Dining Commons! If you are a student who would like to be a part of enhancing the dining experience at Westmont, consider joining the Student Culinary Council! The Student Culinary Council meets once a month and is a way for students to make positive change around sustainability, health and wellness, and help implement new initiatives + special events in the DC. To learn more about joining this team, please email Michelle: maronson@westmont.edu.

Westmont Sustainability Week!

In honor of the upcoming Earth Day celebration, the Westmont Garden & Sustainability Club is excited to host Westmont Sustainability Week: April 17th – 21st! The week will be full of awesome events to raise awareness about sustainability, food, farming, and recycling – as well exploring the connections between environmental stewardship and Christianity. See below for the full Earth Week schedule + event details! 
MONDAY, APRIL 17th
Meatless Monday @ Lunch and Dinner in the DC – On Monday in the DC, Haley’s Station will be 100% vegetarian, in an effort to raise awareness about the environmental ramifications of excessive global meat consumption.
TUESDAY, APRIL 18th
Seed Starting Table @ Lunch outside the Front DC Lawn – Learn to start vegetables seeds with the help of the Westmont Garden & Sustainability Club members. You can even make your own seed packets for planting seeds at home!
 
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19th
Pie & Chai Worship Night @ 5pm-6pm in the Track Garden – Join us in the Track Garden for a fun night of music, homemade pie, chai tea, and discussions about the intersection between faith and environmental stewardship. Guest speaker is Professor Paul Willis!
THURSDAY, APRIL 20th
FREE Clothing Swap @ Lunch outside the DC – Drop off your unwanted, clean clothes, shoes, and accesories in the donation box located in the Front Lounge of the DC. Then on Thursday, April 20th from 11am-2pm on the Front DC Lawn, visit the Clothing Swap and perhaps find something “new” for your wardrobe!
Moonlight Yoga in the Garden @ 8:30pm in the Track Garden – Enjoy a moonlit yoga session led by the Garden Club’s very own yoga masters! Please bring your own mat and a flashlight.
FRIDAY, APRIL 21st
Workday in the Track Garden @ 3-4:30pm – Join the Garden Club for our weekly work session in the garden! A great opportunity to check out what’s growing in the gardens, meet our lovely chickens, and get your hands in the dirt!
 
Cheesemaking 101 Cooking Class @ 4:30pm in VK Kitchen – Learn to make your own delicious farm fresh cheeses from scratch! Email maronson@westmont.edu to RSVP – space is limited! To participate, we ask that you donate $10 to help cover ingredient costs. 

Thankful for a busy and bountiful Fall!

As the days get shorter, the air gets cooler, and winter rains begin to relieve our parched soils, it’s a wonderful time to reflect on on the bounty that the fall semester has brought to the Westmont Gardens!

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It has been a busy and fruitful few months in the Gardens… one of the most exciting developments was successfully raising funds to purchase 12 laying hens for our beautiful chicken coop! Over the summer, Westmont student John Wright built the garden an awesome, predator-proof chicken coop, and the Garden & Sustainability Club worked hard all semester to secure funding to bring chickens to Westmont. The purpose of having chickens is to create a more sustainable ecosystem in the garden: the chickens eat our green garden scraps and pesky bugs, and in turn they help make natural fertilizer that we add to our compost pile, which then gets added back to the garden beds to enrich the soil (not to mention they are super fun to have around)!img_1757IMG_3604

This semester has also been filled with fun activities with the Garden Club – from a farmers’ market field trip, to a delicious Mediterranean cooking class, potluck snacking in the garden, lots of bustling Friday afternoon workdays, beekeeping sessions with Paul Cronshaw, delicious persimmon milkshakes in the DC, and an awesome field trip to SB Natives Nursery – just to name a few! Below are photos from just a few of these activities:

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Farm Fresh Friday continues to be a hit with students, faculty, and staff in the Dining Commons! From our rotating fresh pressed juices to seasonal dishes featuring just-harvested produce from the gardens – the Dining Commons is constantly seeking new ways to bring fresh, local produce to our menus. Below are photos of some Farm Fresh Friday favorites:

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In an effort to increase awareness about sustainability on campus, the Garden Club has also hosted a monthly Sustainability Speaker Series in partnership with the Gaede Instiute! This fall we’ve been blessed to have a wide range of incredible speakers – from Paul Cronshaw, President of the Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association, to Kathi King, Director of Education & Outreach for the CEC, and Laura Johnson from Salty Girl Seafood. Next Tuesday, December 6th, the Garden Club will host the final Speaker Series Presentation of the semester with Ellie Perry, partner and co-founder of Sundowner Consulting. The presentation will take place from 3:30pm-4:30pm in Hieronymus Lounge. Local snacks will be provided!
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All in all, it has been a fabulous fall in the Westmont Gardens – full of gardening, raising chickens, cooking, eating, and learning together. Here’s to a bountiful fall and another wonderful year ahead in 2017!

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.