The Forge Garden

By Tracy Wu | October 18, 2016
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In the late 19th century in the shadow of crumbling Mission Santa Clara de Asís, a blacksmith sweated in his forge, pounding out all manner of farm implements for Santa Clara's then primarily agricultural community. Just over 100 years later a group of environmental studies and sciences department professors at Santa Clara University (SCU) convened at the site of this old forge, turned over the soil with a tractor, heavily amended it with organic compost and hired a team of garden educators to begin The Forge Garden.

The Forge Garden–a half-acre on the SCU campus run by the Center for Sustainability–serves as a space for course research, service learning and sustainable food production. Currently home to free-range chickens, beehives, a 400-square-foot greenhouse, a compost center, over 20 fruit trees, over 15,000 square feet of garden beds, a public commons and an aquaponic system, students from a wide spectrum of academic disciplines attend labs, tours, lectures and observations, or work weekly in The Forge Garden, collectively logging 1,217 class-hours last school year.

The Forge Garden also serves the greater community. It is a hub for Bronco Urban Garden Programs (BUG), founded in 2009 to provide standards-aligned science enrichment activities for children, youth, teachers and families in marginalized communities and to promote environmental education and healthy nutrition for at-risk families in San Jose, and intern-run garden activities for youngsters at Homesafe, a women's and children's center offering co-housing and transitioning for survivors of domestic violence.

According to BUG Garden Educator Jenny Wood, children who come to The Forge Garden often learn some unexpected lessons. "There was one student who never wanted to come to garden club. He would try to get out of it, pouting the entire walk to the garden. During the 45-minute program he would water, plant seeds, or taste a fruit or vegetable and by the end he was complaining that he didn't want to leave … After a month of the program he was always the first one in line to get to the garden. It was amazing to see this significant positive change in his attitude."

One of the best aspects of The Forge Garden is the opportunity to socially interact with others in the community. You can volunteer on Wednesday or Friday mornings, shop at the Friday farm stand or attend a large variety of free workshops. Email theforge@scu.edu for more information. 

Article from Edible Silicon Valley at http://ediblesiliconvalley.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/forge-garden
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