Cal Poly to Launch Campus Community Garden for Students, Faculty and Staff

Groundbreaking for the Food Pantry Garden set for Tuesday, June 4

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly will host a groundbreaking for its new organic campus community garden at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 4, near the Health Center and Recreation Center climbing wall.

The 1,200-square-foot Food Pantry Garden, sponsored by Cal Poly’s Campus Health & Wellbeing Department along with the Honors Program and Facilities’ Energy, Utilities, and Sustainability Department, will be open for 2019 plot applications starting in June. Any student, staff or faculty member interested in a garden space can apply.

The garden will provide the campus community a space to grow vegetables while also allowing the gardeners to donate freshly picked produce to the Cal Poly Food Pantry, supporting food-insecure students. 

“Health is not merely the absence of disease; it is the cultivation and design of accessible services, supports and resources to ensure our campus community is able to thrive and be well,” said Genie Kim, Cal Poly’s director of Wellbeing Education.

Cal Poly’s community garden supporters anticipate the garden will increase awareness of food security issues, educate the community on the importance of local food, and build networks of people interested in these topics.

“Our project team was really excited to contribute on-campus, especially in regards to student health and wellbeing,” said Katie Anne Holmes, a communications studies and Honors Program student. “We hope the Food Pantry Garden will have a tangible effect — one we see every day, improving the lives of students.”

The garden will occupy a portion of the lawn area nearest the Health Center building (No. 27). It will feature eight 8-by-4-foot raised bed plots. Each bed, which will be topped by screened wood frame, will be for two gardeners. Organizers envision a student teaming up with staff or faculty member to ensure that there are plenty of hands to keep the garden running during quiet times during the school year.

Cost per quarter is $15 for students, $25 for staff/faculty and $30 for an organization. The beds will be protected against gophers from below and foraging deer from above. The initial soil will be from Central Coast Landscapes and Cal Poly compost. The tool shed will be located in the patio area of Health Center — out of sight of the garden but close enough for easy access for gardeners.

This will be the sixth community garden in San Luis Obispo. The first garden site in the city, Broad Street Garden, with its 18 plots between Lincoln Street and the southbound Highway 101 on-ramp, began in 1975 as a senior project for a Cal Poly ornamental horticulture student.

Community gardens are also found throughout the county, including in Morro Bay, Arroyo Grande, and Atascadero. They are intended to increase food freshness, improve food security (and gardeners’ mental health) and reduce food miles while also strengthening communities. 

“While we have lots of ag spaces on campus, people outside of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences can feel disconnected from those large farm areas,” said Kylee Singh, Cal Poly sustainability coordinator. “The Food Pantry Garden will be a perfect way to create space for those who want to garden as a hobby and support a great cause.”

In 2018, the CSU Chancellor’s Office awarded Cal Poly $130,000 to support Basic Needs. The funding includes $30,000 for The Sustainable Food Hub Project, which provides accessible services, support and resources such as the Cal Poly Farmer’s Market, the Community Garden and the Cal Poly Food Pantry.

Campus Health and Wellbeing and partner groups are using about $5,000 to make the Food Pantry Garden a reality while emphasizing the importance of health and sustainability.

To reserve a garden space, contact Kylee Singh at

About Campus Health and Wellbeing:
About Cal Poly Sustainability:
About Cal Poly’s University Honors Program:
About the Food Pantry Garden:

Contact: Kylee Singh

May 29, 2019

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