Students Seed Ideas for Redesign of Pitzer Garden

Co-written by Callie Radecki PZ ’22, Tommy Shenoi PZ ’24, Claire Manning PZ ’22, and Anthony Shing PZ ’24.

This past Earth Day, Pitzer announced the Revitalization of the Student Garden. A committee of students, faculty, and staff have worked throughout the semester to improve the space with the funds provided by a donor to purchase a new chicken coop, raised garden beds, and student caretaker wages. During this process, surveys were sent to students and faculty to aid the creation of a community-driven redesign of the Garden-Grove area. 

Graphic Design by John Beck

The student survey, created by Robert Redford Conservancy Fellow Callie Radecki PZ ‘22, indicated that the top priorities for over 50% of respondents were “optimizing growing space((

 Vertical Gardens

Utilizing structures that move upward are an essential way to maximize space in a garden. Incorporating trellises, obelisks, and pyramid structures will enhance beauty, provide shade for plants lower to the ground, and aid plants in growing up instead of out. These features increase the square footage of gardens without taking up the same amount of space if the plants were to reach their full potential on the ground. We plan on growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and gourds with the use of these methods.

Defined by Shenoi.

))” “educational opportunities and demonstrations” and “collaboration with community partners.” 

Many ideas were generated by the surveys’ feedback and are being discussed in the weekly committee meetings including; a pollinator garden((

Pollinator Garden A pollinator garden is essentially a variety of flowers that provide pollen and nectar to a range of pollinating insects. A year-round pollinator garden will provide a stable food source for our pollinators, which is essential to ensuring the pollination and success of our crops. A few strips or patches in the garden seeded with native milkweed, buddleja, nasturtiums, and seasonal wildflowers will attract bees and butterflies and act as a host garden for these pollinators who will go on to pollinate our garden. Additionally, we plan on using our space to grow native milkweed, an essential plant for the survival of Monarch butterflies, and facilitate an annual spring giveaway for the nearby Claremont community.

Defined by Shenoi and Manning.

)), student-led Compost-Planting Parties, and scaling up successful and sustainable food production with the support of former Huerta del Valle programs manager Arthur Levine PZ ‘14.

Pollinator Garden Strip

Student Garden Club members, Tommy Shenoi PZ ‘24 and Claire Manning PZ ‘22, have advocated for taking the Student Garden Revitalization even further by continuing to engage community members with projects such as the construction of a greenhouse((


Two variables that most affect plant growth are temperature and humidity. A greenhouse works to stabilize the growing environment by buffering the temperature, maintaining humidity, and protecting the plants from extreme cold. This makes a greenhouse an excellent environment for growing seedlings, micro sprouts, and other sensitive or young plants that need stable growing environments. Greenhouses extend the growing season, and allow a gardener to easily start plants from seed. We are interested in building a small greenhouse for the Pitzer garden so we can have a stable environment, away from the squirrels, to grow plants from seed. We would use 2×4’s for the frame, and semi transparent plastic siding for the walls and roof. Although the materials for this project will be inexpensive, it will be a big project for students to complete, and will yield many education opportunities in the garden for years to come. 

Defined by Manning.

)) and the initiation of a mycology club((

Mycology Club

Growing edible mushrooms, such as oyster and shiitake mushrooms, will provide hands-on educational experience that we hope will serve as a foundation for the study of mycology. Mushrooms have a striking relevance to our modern world, from their role in the future of food to sustainable packaging and medicine. Mushrooms, which are nutrient-dense, can be grown using low-tech, low-resource urban farming methods. We plan on repurposing spent coffee grounds from local and on-campus sources to cultivate the mushrooms. This grow station will expand students’ knowledge of mycology and sustainability, all while fostering curiosity and fascination.

Defined by Shenoi.


Pink Oyster mushrooms grown in reusable buckets.

The funding to revive the Student Garden has sparked ongoing conversations about the potential to harness momentum from this project towards strengthening community and experiential education. 

Ultimately, the students working on the Garden Redesign believe that this project is a step in the right direction towards addressing a growing student interest in agroecology.((

The movement and study of ecologically-sound agricultural production. One of, if not the most pressing issues of the climate and ecological crises is adopting resilient foodways that can not only sustain our growing population, but will regenerate rather than deplete our soil, water, and air for future generations.

Defined by Kuhn.)) Through continued collaboration on the Garden Project, they hope to see formal educational opportunities become built into Pitzer and 5C EA curricula.

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