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Fresh from the Forge: A BUG's Life

Bronco Urban Gardens, or BUG, began at Santa Clara in 2009 with a goal of promoting environmental education and well-being to at-risk kids in San Jose. The program has since grown to include more than 100 SCU student volunteers, 50 community volunteers and our very own Garden Educator, Lisa Martinez. BUG programs occur at Washington and Gardner Elementary schools and with the Santa Clara Home Safe shelter. We interviewed Lisa this month to gain a bettering understanding of how the BUG program has become such a success.

How are the Ignatian Center and the Arrupe program intertwined with BUG?
LM: BUG is a community-partner with the Arrupe program, offering undergraduates the opportunity to engage with members of Washington and Santa Clara neighborhoods and learn from their experiences through their engagement. Arrupe placements work alongside me during garden club time, helping our young gardeners explore and learn from their garden. The Ignatian Center is also working with me to develop the community-based learning experience of undergraduates participating in BUG. We are looking at ways to create a K-2 Thriving Neighbors after- school program, which would be a garden club specifically for younger students at Washington Elementary. Currently BUG has begun a partnership with a professor in the Liberal Studies Department, Brett Solomon, Ph.D. The plan is to collaborate with her and her students winter quarter in the gardens. I am very excited about her involvement in our garden clubs as it will be a dynamic opportunity for all the students, both SCU and elementary, bringing a great energy to the BUG garden clubs.

HomeSafe, the local women’s & children’s shelter, also has the opportunity to visit the garden weekly. What does a typical weekend look like?
LM: Mothers are welcomed to participate alongside their children, but it is not required. During our time together, we gather at the Forge to play games and read. We work together in the HomeSafe garden beds, and we prepare a snack in the solar house kitchen. Garden Club ends with sharing a healthy snack the kids prepared. While ending with a healthy meal is a fun way to recap what worked well in the garden that morning, checking out the chicken coop remains the most popular activity with our little gardeners.

What kinds of activities do you lead at the Washington & Gardner school garden programs?
There are a range of garden-based lessons that happen in BUG Garden Clubs. Students participate in science investigations, nature-inspired art projects, and hands-on health and nutrition lessons. The garden is an amazing example of how a living lab transforms our learning experiences.

What are your goals for the program?
LM: I hope to continue the great work that BUG has done in the community for many years now. Our after-school garden clubs is one way that BUG can continue to help grow healthy minds and bodies. My hope is to invite more participation in these clubs from SCU students as I believe that this program is a powerful learning experience for anyone involved. I also hope to find ways for the greater community to engage in the school gardens, so parents, younger and older siblings, teachers and school staff can benefit from the organic produce growing, garden workshops, and family days. A community garden is such a valuable tool in creating unity and building relationships.

To incorporate nutrition lessons into the BUG programs, Lisa makes sure that cooking is a key lesson. She offered up this yummy oatmeal muffin recipe that kids and adults alike love!

Oatmeal Muffins

  1. Soak 1 cup of oats in 1 cup of whole milk for 20-30 mins.
  2. Combine 1 egg, ½ cup of brown sugar and 1 stick of butter.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of whole wheat flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of baking soda.
  4. Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Contributed by Allison Carmody ‘17, Sustainability Intern for Food & Dining

Fresh from the Forge,Forge Garden