Garden Blog

If you peek over the rocky ridge that lines the southern end of the lower quarry, this is what you may see. The Foundational Roots Garden, which lies adjacent to building B2, is at the heart of PICA. Live-in residents, visiting classes, and wandering students alike come together in this garden to grow food, cultivate healthy soils, and sow hand collected seeds, all the while learning about nature through their personal experiences. Formerly as rocky as the quarry, the Garden has become a place where life and health starts.


If you walk into the A-Quad and look around, you may notice the greenhouse perched up the slope, beneath the prickly pears. This plastic-covered structure and the nearby shade house are the primary sites for propagation. To PICA, "propagation" means the processes of saving, starting, and selecting seeds. This includes germination, seedling care, transplanting, and seed saving. During the winter especially, it becomes essential to start new plants indoors. The seeds stay warm and sheltered in the greenhouse until it is time to send them out into the garden! Many dedicated PICAns have also started some of the most successful plants of the seasons in their own rooms.


Located between the A and B quads, the PICA / Village compost system is a collaborative effort between the Program in Community and Agroecology and the Village Housing staff and residents. Made possible by a grant from the Campus Sustainability Council, the PICA / Village composting system is a series of 6 approx. 1 cubic yard hot composting bins. Village residents can elect to have a food scrap collection bucket in their buildings. These buckets are collected weekly and added to the composting system. The goal of this partnership is to achieve complete food waste diversion in the Village Community. Currently, all buildings in the Village are actively engaged in the composting program. The process of converting food scraps and other organic matter back into a usable soil amendment is an important and vital step in sustaining the soil and community.


Providing more direct links between students and the food they consume is one of the goals of the PICA program. Organic vegetables are harvested and cooked by PICA students, herbs from the garden are incorporated into fresh baked breads, and desserts may feature fresh fruit from trees planted by students in past years. Three nights a week, members of PICA have the opportunity to sign up to cook and to eat together, often bonding and making friends across the table. Either in the Village Kitchen or in building A3, the community meals are truly the soul of PICA.