After much anticipation and planning over the past few months, the Student Gardens Market Cart re-bloomed in the Quarry Plaza on Friday, February 26th. Students from PICA and the College Eight garden rolled up their sleeves and braved pouring rain to harvest some of the fruits of their labor (well, winter herbs and greens, to be more precise) and share them with the UCSC community.
The idea to revive this past PICA project stemmed from last year’s daunting task of co-writing a grant proposal to the Campus Sustainability Council. From the tide of old grant proposals and project descriptions that then-PICA leaders sifted through to find inspiration, snippets and photos of an on-campus Foundational Roots Co-op market cart rose to the surface. We were so intrigued! How awesome must it have been to use our handfuls of strawberries and bundles of collards to introduce fellow students to the joys of local, organic food grown equitably and sustainably by their peers? Far more compelling and fun than circulating flyers and petitions in Quarry Plaza, I suspected.
Why on earth weren’t we doing this anymore?
Well, as part of my work with PICA this year, I’ve set myself to bringing back this great project and refashioning it so that it can serve as an opportunity for collaboration for all of UCSC’s student garden communities. With input from old marketeers (thanks, Jodi!), fellow student gardeners, and Moti Phillips (who runs CAN’s crackerjack Downtown Farmers’ Market stand), I’ve put together plans for a series of spring Market Carts sprinkled all over campus. As in the past, we will offer all of our garden goodies on a voluntary donation basis so that any student, regardless of income, can get a taste of what we do. With plenty of produce and starts donated from campus gardens, and grant money freshly gifted from the Campus Sustainability Council, we should have an easy time keeping this project as low-cost as possible.
If the test-run of the market cart last Friday is any sign of things to come in the spring, then I gladly look forward to the new season. Even during an hour in the pouring rain, students from all walks of campus stopped by our table, ogled at the potted succulents we had for folks to take home, and chose their favorite bundles from our produce-laden blue wheelbarrow to snack on later. Many lingered to talk with the student gardeners running the cart about their own garden and community experiences and how they could get involved with on-campus student gardens, and some gave very generously to our donations fund.
The excitement and camaraderie I saw among the students was just as heartening for me. Soaked as we were, we met the crowds and each other with smiling faces, banjo tunes and handfuls of lavender and calendula. I can only hope that this joyful and generous spirit will come again in springtime.
Kate Schaffner, PICA Chancellor’s Undergraduate Intern