Santa Clara University’s ½-acre edible, organic garden is a hub for sustainable food system education. Established in 2008, the Forge Garden has committed to serve the campus as a space for course research, service learning, and demonstration of sustainable food production.
The Forge Garden currently has six chickens, four beehives, a 400-square foot greenhouse, a compost center, over 20 fruit trees, over 15,000-square feet of garden beds, a public commons, an aquaponic system, an outdoor kitchen, and the 2007 Solar Decathlon House used as an office.
“Working as a Forge Garden Apprentice has not only taught me how to grow my own food, but has also made me a more active community member, a better equipped leader and collaborator, a more conscious consumer, and has made me more aware of what it means to live a sustainable lifestyle.”
Pounds of produce harvested
Pounds of produce donated
Pounds of produce sold to SCU Dining Services
Farm Stand visitors
Every week, produce is available at our donation-based farm stand from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. The Farm Stand is open to all with a suggested donation price of $2 per lb and $1 per bunch. Our policy is to pay what you can. We accept cash and check.
Occasionally, our produce is featured in SCU Dining Services by Bon Appetit student meals at The Marketplace in the Benson Memorial Center.
Weekly donations are made to SCU’s Bronco Pantry and SCU Eats. These food pantries aim to reduce the number food insecure students on Santa Clara University campus.
Each week our Bronco Urban Gardens staff goes door-to-door to donate Forge grown produce and share recipes with the families living at Home Safe women's transitional housing center.
In Spring Quarter of 2016, we launched our first ever apprentice program. The Forge Garden Apprenticeship is designed to teach students not only urban agriculture skills but also to be student leaders within the SCU community. Apprentices pick an area of interest to specialize in for the quarter, such as compost or greenhouse management. The apprentice team meets weekly to discuss readings on various urban agriculture topics such as Integrated Pest Management and Crop Rotation. Apprentices share their knowledge with student volunteers during the drop-in volunteer hours. Apprentices design, promote and lead the the “Student-led workshop series” which is geared towards students.
Our workshops focus on urban agriculture skills, cooking and garden crafts. If you have an idea for a workshop, let us know!
Past workshops included:
- Container gardening
- Backyard gardening basics
- Gardening for native bees
- Backyard chicken care
- Composting and Vermicomposting
- Low water lawn alternatives
- Natural building with cob
- Herbs to cure the common cold
- Medicinal herbs - teas and tinctures
- Beer Brewing
- Preserve the summer harvest
- Garden Gifts for the Holiday
- DIY Beeswax wraps
The Forge Garden is utilized as an outdoor classroom, research space, and living laboratory. The Forge has been successful at developing an interdisciplinary space for a wide range of departments. For example, engineering students have built a rainwater harvesting system on the greenhouse, a Buddhism class held a mindful eating exercise, communication students developed “How-to” videos demonstrating healthy soil cultivation techniques and biology courses build compost piles and examined the bacteria present in the pile. Courses have been developed with the understanding that a wide range of disciplines are needed to create a just and sustainable food system.
The Forge Garden received the CHESC award for Sustainability Innovations: Utilizing Campus Farms for Interdisciplinary Studies and Planning in the summer of 2019.
Forge Garden Courses
ENVS 191El Urban Agriculture Practicum:The rise in urban populations in conjunction with industrial agriculture has resulted in a disconnect between the public and their food system. Urban farms are diverse spaces that are utilized by a wide variety of groups for food security, food sovereignty, education, and connection to nature. Through lectures and hands-on activities held at SCUs Forge Garden and Bronco Urban Garden, students will learn practical skills in sustainable urban food production. Students will complete their Experiential Learning in Social Justice (ELSJ) requirement by working at the Bronco Urban Garden (BUG) school garden at Washington Elementary School in downtown San Jose. In addition to the ELSJ placement, students will explore urban farming models through field trips and guest speakers from community members working in urban agriculture in Silicon Valley.
ENVS 196 California Foodscapes: The course is designed for first-year students and investigates the environmental, social, economic and cultural practices that make up the local and regional foods of the Santa Clara Valley and beyond. Students will ground themselves in the local community by researching California’s foodscape and learn how food connects us to the community. Additionally, this course has a culinary component and students will gain practical skills in sourcing, cooking and eating California’s food. This course meets three times at The Forge Garden and will take an overnight field trip to a local farm. At each class meeting, students will prepare a meal from the garden.
Academic Departments and Programs that have held classes at The Forge Garden:
- Child Studies
- Environmental Studies and Sciences
- Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries
- Liberal Studies
- Modern Languages and Literatures
- Public Health Science
- Religious Studies
- Theatre & Dance
If you are interested in bringing one of your courses to the garden, contact Katharine at Krondthaler@scu.edu
Community Development and Food Justice
The Forge Garden engages the community through a variety of workshops, events, and programs. The garden organizes several quarterly workshops about a variety of gardening and farming topics, acts as a program hub for Bronco Urban Gardens, serves as an Arrupe Engagement site for the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education's community-based learning objective,and hosts other service-learning and team-building activities.
The garden also participates in special events related to Food Day, Campus Sustainability Day, and Alumni Service Day, as well as hosting annual programs like plant sales, the Fall Harvest Party, Spring Open House, and the Sustainability Celebration & Champion Awards.
Forge Advisory Board
2015-16 marked the first year of The Forge Advisory Board. The advisory board consists of faculty, staff and students that are committed to The Forge Garden mission. The goal of the advisory board is to to promote and advocate for The Forge Garden in SCU community and to support mission and plans of the Forge Garden. The board has helped make discussions about workshops held at The Forge, the workplan for the student apprentices and farm stand pricing structure.
Nothing beats a quiet afternoon in the garden! Drop by The Forge Garden for open volunteer hours. All are welcome. Possible activities include planting winter crops, building compost piles, spreading mulch, harvesting and seeding in the greenhouse. Come ready to work with sturdy shoes, a hat, sunscreen, a water bottle and clothes that can get dirty. Questions? Contact Katharine at email@example.com. See you in the garden!
Is your group looking to get outside, learn a new skill, and bond over worms? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to schedule a volunteer service group. We work with RLCs, on campus staff departments, student clubs, local high schools and other interested groups.
Best Buddies program
The Forge Garden and SCCAP have partnered with Santa Clara County Office of Education students with disabilities. Students work alongside young adults with disabilities in the garden on a weekly basis. Volunteer tasks included mulching, sweeping, and weeding. Each quarter ends with a garden party celebration.
In the 1950’s Santa Clara was the third largest fruit production region in the country but most agricultural land has been lost due to development. SCU campus is home to hundreds of fruit-bearing trees that often go unharvested and create nuisance for university landscapers. To prevent the removal of these historical trees, staff and students created the “Glean Team”. The program is a collaboration between the Forge Garden, the Forge Garden Club, Property Management, Facilities and the two Campus pantries. Fruit bearing trees on and off campus were surveyed and mapped using Tableau. Students collect fruit and distribute to the food to pantries on campus and a local shelter. In addition, the Forge Garden supports the campus pantries by providing farm bucks and garden produce donation.
The monthly Forge Fridays Cooking in the Garden is a chance for our community to come together to harvest, cook and eat a meal made from the garden. Our hope to to educated students, staff, faculty and community members on many ways to cook the various fruits and vegetables that we grow in the garden. By sharing a meal in the garden we create a stronger and healthier community. Forge Fridays are free and open to all! Check our calendar for dates and details.