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Volunteers Break Ground at the UC Davis Biological Orchard & Garden

On a bright Sunday morning, we joined other volunteers from Davis and Sacramento to break ground for the brand new UC Davis Biological Orchard and Garden (BOG).  Around 30 volunteers cleaned up a section of the garden, dug up existing fruit trees for future planting, and removed lawn to prepare the ground for solarization.

BOG is an evolution of an idea by Tessa Artale, a third year undergraduate at UC Davis and a friend. Three years ago, they wanted to plant an orchard in an abandoned lot in the middle of the campus to make fruit trees available for students. However, the site did not have irrigation and the project was discontinued until the College of Biological Sciences got involved and revived it.

Ernesto Sandoval, director of the Botanical Conservatory needed a space for his biology class to collect samples and felt like this project fulfilled a multitude of missions.

“The improvement of the site is a win-win-win situation,” Sandoval said. “We get to beautify an empty lot that hasn’t been changed in over 30 years, create an outdoor classroom for our students’ gardening research projects, and educate the campus and greater community on water-wise landscaping.”

BOG is a team effort of Sandoval, Kelly Torres, Marissa Fresquez and Brenna Jones. Jones is a fourth year UC Davis undergraduate in landscape architecture and designed the landscape based on the team’s ideas. The 2,200 square foot space will be sectioned off into biological themes of Mediterranean, South African and native Californian, and also will feature fruit trees of all sizes.

California Food Literacy Center will be collaborating with BOG in educational outreach to young school children.

“An experiential site like BOG will complement our work with kids in schools,” said Amber Stott. “It’s one thing to talk about the importance of bees in the classroom, but it’s far more powerful to bring kids to a landscape that’s designed with the bees’ wellness in mind and see them up close.”

The project has already made an impact on the youngest volunteer there. Seven-year-old Fairfield resident, Madelene Sciortino-Silva raked dry leaves and helped to clear remnants of lawn that was removed.

“I think it’ll be fun and cool to see the place change from having nothing to having plants,” Sciortino-Silva said. “Everyone has their part to play and every part is important!”

For more information on future volunteer opportunities, “like” the UC Davis Biological Orchard and Garden on Facebook.

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