Home at PICA

It was only by chance that I ever happened to be in PICA, but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my young life so far.  I have only recently gotten into the subjects of Agroecology and Permaculture, so gardening was not quite at the top of my list of requirements for housing.  Luckily, my mom had other ideas about that and gently kept prodding me in its direction, until, all of a sudden, I was signed up for PICA and was coming down to live here.

When I first got here, I was the second one to move into my building, and my one housemate was out and about at the time.  Iroamed down the hall reading off all of the name tags as I went:  Tyler, Sam, Emily, Andrew, Sara, Leah, Hannah, Jordan, each one had their own little drawing next to them.

I wondered about how we would all interact and the adventures we would have in the coming year, and most importantly, would we all be able to get along and mesh together?  I met Andrew when he came home, and Tyler soon after he got there later that night.  We had a long and rambling discussion about something that I can’t remember, but during that time, I knew that I would have a really good time here regardless of however the rest of my housemates were.

The whole next week, I met more and more people, until I had eventually met everyone in the quad.  To date, that has probably been the longest and most fun week that I can remember.  I had nave never wanted to prolong summer so badly in my life.  Starting school that Monday was a bit of a downer, thinking about all that fun we had, and that now, with school, we would have to tone it down a bit.  That thought ended about noon when I came home to find Gracie and Simone from the next building over painting a huge mural on some large pieces of cardboard.  For the first time since third or fourth grade, I was asked if I wanted to paint.  At that exact point was when I first started viewing PICA as my home.

We have had a long and adventurous time so far this year.  Through our downs and mostly ups, we have bonded over many an experience that has left us better off.  We have lost a few PICAns to graduation, hardship, and other instances, but they are always remembered and greeted with great joy when they return.  And in that void that they left, other new members have been welcomed joyfully into our community of gardening, playing, and working together.

PICA is about agroecology and gardening, but I believe that the most important aspect of PICA is the diverse community of people that live here.  So much of the sustainability movement from where I was living in Sonora, CA was about the doom and gloom of unsustainable farming practices that occur in the U.S. and the world as a whole.  It was also about working hard to grow organic foods and to teach others how to do the same.  These are all very good things to have done and learned about, but I feel PICA has given me so much more.

In PICA, I have met people  from all aspects of life, each person having different ideas on where they would like to go in their studies, from linguistics to plant sciences to psychology to physics.  Different ideas are flowing all the time at PICA and it has led to a community in which life is not about the garden we have, but the community we have made around it.  Here, at PICA, gardening is not something that needs to be done, gardening is just a part of who we are.

Forrest Verde-Green is PICA’s Community Meals Coordinator and a member of the Leadership Team. He plans to continue living sustainably off campus in a communal house with other PICA students.

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