Residents of Cardinal Gardens Apartments are using their green thumbs to contribute to sustainability efforts with a new community garden.
The 250-square-foot garden opened Saturday and is located on a lawn at Cardinal Gardens. The initiative is a joint effort between the USC Environmental Student Assembly, USC Environmental Core and the residents, and aims to help students grow their own vegetables in their backyard.
Residential student and staff volunteers, working closely with Cardinal Gardens Resident Assistant Olivia Pearson, built a vegetation patch surrounded by a sturdy wooden fence, which was constructed by students. They manually dumped and raked soil, marking the first day of work on the garden. The project was funded by the USC Residential Student Government and the Cardinal Gardens Building Government.
Pearson, a sophomore majoring in environmental engineering, has had a passion for gardening since a young age, which she attributes to her mother. Pearson said that the idea of a community garden sprouted from the one at Parkside, which she hoped to replicate at Cardinal Gardens. Pearson communicated her proposal to the supervisors at housing management to gauge their interest, and after it was approved she reached out to residents and promoted the event through hand-distributed flyers.
“There [are] going to be fresh vegetables and herbs in the garden and all the residents will be able to come and take these things as long as they help contribute to the upkeep of the garden,” Pearson said.
The garden style is largely based on sub-irrigated planters, which are very effective for watering the plants because they can prevent over-watering of the vegetation patch.
The watering method is also instrumental in saving water in the wake of the ongoing drought conditions in California. The drainage pipe runs beneath the patch to get rid of the excess water.
Pearson worked with student volunteers to lay down the foundation for the garden. Soon after, they also laid the soil, tilling it for planting seeds.
She feels that as a resident assistant, this was the best thing that she could have contributed to the community — inviting all the Cardinal Gardens residents to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden and pick them up for their kitchens when they have ripened enough.
Stephanie Allen, a senior majoring in biochemistry and a member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, came to help out at the event on Saturday. Allen said that such initiatives result from the collaboration of many different on-campus student organizations who come together with their resources whenever one of them needs help with a project.
“We do service around the community and contribute by offering a helping hand where we can,” Allen said. “Personally, I think this is fun because I like gardening too, [and] I hope I will have a garden at my home. It is a great way for people in the Cardinal Gardens community to have a nice garden.”
Angela Villamizar, a sophomore majoring in international relations and NGOs and social change, is also a resident assistant at Cardinal Gardens. She said she believes that the initiative will help residents become more environmentally conscious.
“It’s a big deal for the community,” Villamizar said. “It was important to have this community garden to help provide more resources to the residents and help to inspire them to have a healthy lifestyle and the feeling of a community.”
The garden will be open to anyone who helps maintain it, along with several hundred residents of Cardinal Gardens.