Campus Gardens Stories

April 2017
The narratives collected here are a small portion of the many stories that exist at UC Berkeley-affiliated gardens, where students and staff are growing our campus’ food and curating experiential education opportunities.


Urban Agriculture and Food Justice at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm Spring 2017 DeCal

Urban Agriculture and Food Justice at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm, Spring 2017 DeCal

Each member of the spring 2017 DeCal on Urban Agriculture and Food Justice reflected on their experience in this hands-on student-taught course.

James Sanner

James Sanner, Sports and Recreation Grounds Manager

Excerpt: “This is something that there’s a great need for and I think in conjunction with the quantifiable production value, that there’s a great agroecological, urban ecology, and just general ecology value that a very-close-to-campus living laboratory offers. I think that once professors and students realize that this is here and that they have access to seeing how things develop in the field, it will be able to take off on its own.”

Interview by Natalia Semeraro and Nathalie Munoz.

Susanne Smith Wiesman

Susanne Smith Wiesman, Gardener at Clark Kerr Campus

Excerpt: “Further on, [at] Clark Kerr I’d like to expand edible landscaping and have food security and be able to provide more for who in the community needs the produce. But also just to keep connecting people because gardening is something everyone can do and should be doing.

After working at UC Village, I was transferred about 3 years ago to Clark Kerr Campus where I had found the “secret” garden all set up and waiting. At the same time I was requesting to be assigned the garden, Cal Dining was seeking to “wake up” the chef’s garden and that is how this project formed. We have collaborated to develop (what is still in process) a garden that connects the students, staff, kitchens, and community to gardening in general and to food and food security. We have accomplished, humbly and simply, growing food and connecting the community to that process and are honored to be able to provide fresh herbs and produce to the UC Berkeley food pantry. We pride ourselves on being open and accessible, having student led open hours (although garden is always open!) twice a week as well as hands-on workshops and festivities and field trips. We plan on expanding, specifically in structural production trees on campus. I am so lucky to be involved in this project and with my department and the people with whom make it happen (Sam! Hannah! Natalia!) We are so excited to continue to collaborate and grow in the interest of community, environment, and food security!

Interview by Natalia Semeraro and Nathalie Munoz.

Vikremjeet Padda

Vikremjeet Padda, Student Organic Garden Association

Excerpt: “There is just a really supportive group of people here at Berkeley, that really just keep you driven to continue fighting for whatever your cause is, whether it is agricultural reform, or trying to incorporate more garden learning into different types of classes, or anything.”

I am third year student majoring in Geography and Minoring in Food Systems and Ethnic Studies. My passion for food stems from my Punjabi heritage and growing up with traditional farming practices taught to me by my parents and grandparents though our home gardens. Having their knowledge and wisdom passed to me has helped me see the beauty that food has within it while also helping me realize the larger problems that lie within the modern food system. Berkeley’s food community (specifically SOGA) has helped me grow as a leader, student, and community member by allowing me the opportunity to help other people reclaim the food that they eat and by helping expand the conversations involving food.

Interview by Natalia Semeraro, Nathalie Munoz, Julia Tubert, and Louisa Brown.
Videography and editing by Curtis Yap and Jonathan Fong.