Student Organic Garden Association Summer Intern Program: Phase II

Project Leads: Brianna Caspersen (2015-16 SOGA Operations Manager); Sara Cate Jones (former SOGA Programs Manager); Sarah Atkinson (former SOGA Programs Manager)

Sponsor: Student Organic Garden Association (SOGA)
TGIF Grant: $18,001
Project Theme: Agriculture & Food Justice
Project Location: Student Organic Garden
Status: In Progress
Project Description: The Student Organic Garden is a quarter acre community and educational garden located on UC Berkeley property just north of campus and managed by the Student Organic Gardening Association (SOGA). SOGA’s mission is to promote sustainable food systems on campus through hands­ on education and community collaboration. At this 100% student run space, students directly apply sustainable agriculture theories from lecture in the field. In order to fully achieve SOGA’s mission, and because gardens require yearlong, consistent management, the Student Organic Garden requires committed leaders to supervise and maintain both the garden as a space and as a student group. As it stands, current SOGA managers voluntarily take on the maintenance of garden plots, administrative duties, and educational programming in addition to their full ­time course loads and paid work. Due to the high turnover rate of students, SOGA continually faces challenges in maintaining momentum for multi­ semester projects and sustained garden operations. In order to resolve the issue of sustained garden management, SOGA received a 2014 TGIF grant with the goal of initiating a Phase One Intern Program that provided the garden with three interns for the duration of two summers. The internship program imparted training, specific responsibilities, structured turnover, and financial compensation for three summer interns. Through this program, interns were able to hold consistent open hours during the summer (a first in SOGA history) in addition to developing a workshop series and building a relationship with the UC Berkeley Student Food Pantry. Critically, this program helped SOGA fulfill its mission by supplying continuity of maintenance between academic years and efficiency in promoting student engagement in the overall UC Berkeley sustainable food system. Phase two of this internship seeks to extend the impact of full-time garden management beyond summers and into the academic year so as to increase SOGA Garden’s fresh produce donations for the UC Berkeley Student Food Pantry in addition to its educational offerings.
1. Offer safe and high­ quality hands­ on agriculture education in a sustainable food systems framework by extending our summer workshop series into the fall and spring semesters.
2. Develop skill­ building and leadership opportunities for future SOGA leaders through collaboration with numerous organizations and departments, teaching workshops and DeCals, and participating in the UC Berkeley Food Security Committee.
3. Provide continuity of management and leadership in order to effectively and sustainably maintain the physical garden and its programming year­ round, including increased productivity for more regular Food Pantry produce donations.
4. Engage student and community members of all demographics throughout the year in collaborative garden education by maintaining and increasing amount of open hours, classes, workshops, and general volunteer­ led projects such as our gazebo and water catchment system.
Project Spotlight Video:

Mission Statement

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) provides funding for projects that reduce UC Berkeley's negative impact on the environment and make UC Berkeley more sustainable. TGIF will allocate funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley. Portions of the fund also support education and behavior change initiatives, student aid (via return to aid), and internships. TGIF is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority committee and a program coordinator.