Santa Monica College will hold a grand opening ceremony for its new Organic Learning Garden Tuesday, Oct. 25.

The event will take place at 11:30 a.m. at the garden site just outside the Art Complex patio on the main campus, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. The ceremony will feature live music, speakers and food.

Since the garden opened at the beginning of the school year in late August, nearly a dozen groups of students and employees have been busy planting fresh and healthy food at the site. Some of the winter crops that have sprouted are beets and lettuce, bok choy and fava beans, carrots and kale.

Eventually, the growers will be able to eat the fruits of their labor or donate the produce to a food bank, SMC officials note.

The garden plot had been lying dormant for years but SMC students and employees say it is now a center for planting and learning.

“This is a dream come true at last,” said English professor Dana Morgan, who worked with students to spearhead the project.

With about 1,200 square feet of growing space, the garden’s centerpiece features a fenced-in area with ground-level beds and wooden and concrete planting boxes, storage shed, an outdoor sink and benches. Inside the iron fence is an underground cistern that captures rain runoff from the Art Complex, as well as a pump for that water.

Surrounding the fenced area is a combination of grass and landscaped areas with two sundials, a stone water fountain, benches, and a trellis with Canadice grapevines.

“The Organic Learning Garden is a great example of how greening the curriculum can take theory into practice and build community while teaching students about sustainability,” said SMC Director of Sustainability Genevieve Bertone.

The project was proposed by the Associated Students, which wanted a garden to showcase sustainable farming methods, and it was also supported by many SMC employees.

Morgan added, “What is really great is we see a garden community being established on our campus. All these people are collaborating to learn from each other and produce healthy food. We have people with no experience and some who have been gardening for years.”

The $225,000 project – designed by the Los Angeles landscape design firm Mel/ndrez and constructed by South Bay Landscaping – is funded by Measures U and S, bond measures approved by Santa Monica-Malibu voters.

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