On the Santa Clara University campus, something new grows in the hands of students, who care for plants and bees in the Forge Garden. / Image by Jim Genshiemer.
Place of Change
Busy bees bumble near flowers. Clucking chickens clip across peat. Stalwart sunflowers stand guard. This place is the Forge Garden, where shades of a changing food culture, policy change studies, and sustainability take root.
Here is a piece of green in a golden state, where food is understood, stories are found, and students dig in the dirt.
Madeline Pugh ’23, an apprentice at The Forge, begins each week walking through gardens with other volunteers. A low hum grows and soon a cloud of bees buzz overhead. Pausing work for the day, Pugh and the other interns learn, “You should never really expect a totally normal day at the garden,” she says. “There’s always surprises popping up and unexpected things to learn.”
The cascading impacts of ecology carry hope here. During the pandemic, the food grown at the garden fed students through the Bronco Pantry program and 22 families.
Here, the smallest acts, like planting a garden bed, can have the biggest impacts.
While much of the work at The Forge involves upkeep, lessons may stray into hydroponic systems and recipe books. Creativity flourishes just as much as the plants. This is a place where students can become purposeful about the fingerprints they leave on the world.
We cannot turn California’s golden hills green again. Like Sandel says, getting to zero would be very hard. But we can respond to change better. The world is telling us that we need to act. And we can care enough to listen, and be mindful when we put our hands in the dirt.