SF State to debut community garden during Sustainability Day Oct. 24

SF State

David Wentworth-Thrasher, the sustainability coordinator for the Physical Planning & Development department, works with a volunteer group of SF State students and faculty to help relocate and replant topiaries for the garden. Photo by Sam Battles.

The lot behind Hensill Hall at SF State has been many things — a softball field, a construction site for the campus fuel cell and now the site of a community garden.

The community garden, dubbed the Campus Community Farm, will debut Oct. 24 during Sustainability Day, a campus-wide event put on by SF State clubs and organizations honoring a green and sustainable way of life.

“There have been groups and people that have wanted a community garden for an eternity here,” said David Wentworth-Thrasher, sustainability coordinator for the physical planning and development department. “The recent incarnation of this project began in Spring 2010.”

The slated location behind Hensill Hall was decided upon last spring. The dimensions for the Campus Community Farm are 100 feet by 50 feet, with plans for expansion if the project is successful.

“We’ll be able to plant some edible fruit trees, berries, other things — herbs, flowers, and make this place beautiful,” Wentworth-Thrasher said.

Since the area’s ground is compacted earth, plants and vegetation will be kept in 12 planters above ground. Most materials to go into the Campus Community Farm have been previously used for the sustainability projects. Planters were salvaged from the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, an abandoned school near campus currently being demolished and transformed into a 2.5-acre recreational space.

The farm will be organic and pesticide-free. The green house next to the space will provide all the beneficial insects for growth, according to Wentworth-Thrasher.

“We haven’t asked the University in particular to donate funds aside from my time and labor to facilitate this space,” Wentworth-Thrasher said.

The farm does not run on the time and labor of those who work to build the space, however. The project earned a $1,000 grant, won by the campus organization Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students and $1,500 from last year’s annual Farm to Fork Event, which featured organic produce that has been grown within 250 miles of SF State.

The Physical Planning and Development department has also applied for a $5,000 grant that would fund most of the plans for the space.

Michelle Gallemore, a physical planning and development department intern at SF State majoring in environmental studies, hopes the farm will impact the school in a positive way.

“One of my hopes for the community farm is that sustainability will be trickled around campus as a result,” Gallemore said. “The project has the chance to create campus jobs and bring this campus together.”

Yanmin Deng, a Chinese international student studying finance, said the farm would be a welcome addition to campus.

“I’m not used to the idea of a community garden, but I would use it,” Deng said. “I like the idea of fresh food and a free space for people.”

According to Wentworth-Thrasher, students have already taken an interest in the space. During campus Welcome Days, a group of students, staff and faculty came to get their hands dirty, so to speak, and clear the area. Phyllis Wong, University President Leslie E. Wong’s wife, even put in a helping hand.

“(By having the space) someone can say ‘Hey I planted this, I started this seed, and I watched this little bean stock grow and I ate that bean, and maybe I shared it with a friend.’ I want people to have that connection, and be like, ‘We did this together!’” Wentworth-Thrasher said.

If all goes according to plan, the farm could directly benefit the community.

“Maybe we’ll have enough bounty to where we can bring this food (from the farm) to shelters or other people in need,” Wentworth-Thrasher said.

Everyone is encouraged to stop by to help clear and prepare the area every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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