The Forge is Santa Clara University’s half-acre organic garden. It has been active since 2009, when the ground was first tilled and when compost, cover crop, and topsoil were added to the land. Years before it became a garden, the area was a blacksmithing site, which is why it is called “The Forge.”
The primary focus of the Forge is for teaching and demonstrating the practices of sustainable agriculture and bio-intensive gardening, and researching and applying new technologies in the field. Students, faculty, campus organizations, and local community groups are invited to actively participate in the gardening, researching, development, and use of the space.
Another exciting educational component to the Forge is the 2007 Solar Decathlon House. SCU undergraduate engineers designed and built the house in 2007, and it took 3rd place in the international Solar Decathlon. The Solar House provides the garden staff and volunteers with a kitchen, lounge area, bathroom, and office space.
This year, the garden has a new Organic Garden Manager, Rose Madden. She has some exciting plans for the garden, including “enhancing the functionality and beauty of the garden, increasing our vegetable production, and developing stronger relationships with faculty, staff, students, and campus organizations.”
As a child, Rose grew up in beautiful Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. While growing up on an island known for its beaches and conservation land, she “always loved the outdoors, nature, and exploring. This interest in my natural surroundings stayed with me throughout adolescence. After graduation from high school I started working at a local landscape company, doing garden design, maintenance, and nursery care. This was my first experience doing a job that I loved - gardening.“
It was the joy and fulfillment she got from the careful steps of gardening that led Rose to agroecology. Agroecology is the relationship between agriculture and ecological systems. Through traveling abroad and coursework at SCU, Rose became interested in human dependence on ecological health and agricultural productivity and the underestimated connection between the two.
Rose is very excited for her new role at The Forge, where she can apply all that she has learned in farming and community development. She has been a part of The Forge from the beginning, helping to plant the first crop in 2009.
Things are still changing for The Forge, as Rose hopes to “increase the amount of vegetable and fruit production in the garden by maximizing all of its areas and applying new technologies in vertical, container, and aquaponic gardening systems.”
Not only is the garden improving food production, but it also has an important educational function. This aspect of the garden includes an outdoor classroom and common areas, a plant nursery, an outdoor kitchen, and demonstration plots thoughout the garden.
The Forge is offering expanded volunteer days starting Winter Quarter on Monday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons from 1:00-5:00 pm. This is a great way to get outside, meet new friends, and learn about sustainability and our SCU community.
Opportunities at The Forge are not just limited to students. For faculty and staff, The Forge is a great educational space. The Forge “can be a site for your field trip, hands-on experiments, lectures, film showings, class receptions, and assigning student research projects,” says Rose.
Rose looks forward to “building a network with faculty and staff in all the academic departments to discover ways in which the Forge can be intertwined into relative coursework and projects.”
Anyone interested in being involved with The Forge should contact Rose Madden directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. More than anything, Rose says she looks forward to “including more people, departments, and campus organizations in the growth, success, and mission of the Forge.”
By Megan Anders, '14 Sustainability Intern -- Athletics