Adventist Health and the Grimm Family Education Foundation have partnered with the Kern Community College District and Bakersfield College to break ground on the College’s first edible garden. A special event to commemorate the groundbreaking of this new outdoor educational space took place this morning, Friday, November 19, 2021 at 8:30AM on BC’s Panorama Main campus.
Dr. Sonya Christian, Chancellor of the Kern Community College District says the Edible Garden concept started with our faculty and staff in Agriculture and Culinary Arts working with community partners. “Generations of Renegades will benefit from our partners planting the seeds of education, equity, wellness, and collaboration in creating this edible garden. Through the tremendous support of The Grimm Family Foundation and Adventist Health, the idea for a sustainable garden and outdoor learning space was cultivated over time.” she said. “We have such a longstanding relationship with the Grimm Family Foundation and Grimmway Academy creating early college pathways for students transitioning from eighth grade to high school. And Adventist Health has been a steadfast partner in all of our healthcare workforce expansion initiatives.”
“Our mission at Adventist Health is living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope,” said Daniel Wolcott, President of Adventist Health in Kern County. “Those keywords: health, wholeness and hope truly translate to what this garden represents. We are so honored to partner with Bakersfield College and The Grimm Family Foundation to make this garden a reality.”
"Together, Adventist Health and the Grimm Family Education Foundation are supporting BC’s sustainable initiatives that address basic needs in our community and help improve educational outcomes," said R.J. Valentino, CEO of the Grimm Family Education Foundation. "We are honored to be part of this strong, sustainable partnership that demonstrates the willingness of regional organizations to partner in the best interest of this community.”
The 18,000 square foot garden is to be located in the field off Mt. Vernon Ave, just south of the entrance to campus near Church St. It is the area well-known by the community as the location of Garden Fest, the college’s annual springtime gardening event. The space will be transformed to include an upper-terrace garden and a mid-terrace garden featuring different varieties and fruits, vegetables, herbs, and plants.
Dean of Instruction, Jessica Wojtysiak says this space is about learning as much as it is about providing students an equitable option to sustainably grown and nutritious food. She says, The Bakersfield College Edible Garden illustrates our campus commitment to our core values of learning, sustainability, wellness, and community. Through BC’s Agriculture, Nutrition, and Culinary Arts Pathway, the Renegade Community will now have the opportunity to grow healthy food within a local garden, in a sustainable way, while learning the skills and values that will propel them into successful careers and promote food security.”
A survey conducted in 2019 of nearly 40,000 students from 57 community colleges found that a combined 52% of students said they either couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals or worried whether their food would run out before having to buy more. From those same results, 41% of respondents said they skipped meals or ate smaller portions for financial reasons and 12% had not eaten for an entire day the previous month due to not having enough money.
Similarly in the first half of 2020, out of the students who participated in the COVID-19 Impact Survey, 45% of students reported some form of food insecurity. That’s why Dr. Nicky Damania, BC’s Dean of Students is excited that extra harvested produce will also go to students through the Renegade Pantry. He says, “while having non-perishable foods in the pantry is a valuable staple, we know just how important it is for students to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables to nutritionally sustain them through the academic journey and towards success.