Healthy Garden, Healthy Community

By: Nayeli Esquilin, PAC Pulse Staff Reporter

Every Tuesday morning Rodrick Rich (also known as Rocky) comes into the garden to plan out what needs to be achieved for the day. Rocky is the community garden academic lab tech at Palo Alto College. At the PAC Community Garden, everyone gets the chance to learn and grow, along with the various fruits and vegetables, and give back to the community we call home. The garden was started in 2019 by the college to support our local community and support students in learning more about horticulture outside of the classroom. “We’ve come a long way in trying to get it worked out, but the pandemic really slowed things down,” Rocky said. The garden allows students and neighboring community members to come by and learn to grow a variety of plants. Volunteers are given simple tasks to achieve during their 1-2 hour time frame. These tasks include watering the garden beds, weeding, and, all around, learning to keep up with a healthy garden. 

The garden is a come-one, come-all weekly experience for students to try out their green thumbs and gain hours to put towards service hours. “Anybody can come over here,” said Rocky, “We’re open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Along with helping us here, you’re helping yourself with your community service work.”

With the help of our horticulture courses, led by Mrs. Flores and Mrs.Vogler, word of the garden spreads like wildfire between classes to allow students to practice for class assignments. “We had Mrs. Flores’ class out here, it was her soils class, and they come out here and tested our soil to see what nutrients we’re lacking and tell us what we need,“ Rocky explains. “Last week Mrs. Vogler, she has the arboriculture class, and they came out last week and trimmed all the trees. So our trees are ready for spring since last year we had that big freeze and nobody was here because of coronavirus, so we’re trying to get some of the trees back.”

Whether you want to try out your green thumb, get in some work-study hours, or do your part in keeping our community healthy and fed, the garden is the place to be! “Just come over and take a look at it,” Rocky smiles. “Get your hands dirty! That’s the biggest thing. Are you going to like it? Are you going to like growing stuff? To see something, take it from seed and grow it yourself, it’s an accomplishment. ‘Wow, I did that! What else can I do?’ and that’s what makes them keep coming back and to keep wanting to do it.”

Nayeli Esquilin is a communication major at Palo Alto College and is a staff reporter for PAC Pulse.

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