FSH Community Garden, Family Student Housing

Contributed by Goldie Mitton

“The garden allows my daughter to be part of my organizing life, as I teach her about gardening and food production, even at such a young age. She’s with me as I meet with the other families and as we do the work in the garden.”

In Conversation With Goldie Mitton

Living in Family Student Housing has been a really rewarding and challenging experience for me. FSH made it possible for me to continue studying at UC Santa Cruz. I am an environmental studies student also studying education. I got pregnant in the middle of my schooling, and If FSH wasn’t here, it would have been difficult for me to continue my schooling. Living here, I have childcare and affordable housing. I can get back and forth from classes; I can get to my daughter if she gets sick at daycare. Everything is right here.

Beyond those necessities, FSH has offered a lot of resources for my family – my daughter is now two-year old – in terms of study spaces, childcare, and, here in the FSH gardens, a space to grow food and practice community organizing. So, it has allowed me to expose my daughter to things that I think are really important.

I am part of, and have organized, a group of about seven families in FSH that are invested in multicultural gardening. This group has created the three first gardening plots that you see when you come in on the right. One is a Chinese vegetable and herb garden, another is a salsa garden, and the last is a medicinal garden. It’s been really important to me that I can have my daughter be part of my organizing life and to teach her about gardening and food production, even at such a young age. It is really neat to have my daughter present with me as I meet with the other families and as we do the work in the garden. She helps as we pull weeds, as we move in new soil, or as we introduce ladybugs and other kinds of insects to the garden. It has been a really amazing opportunity for her, at such a young age, to see food grow, and to see how the garden changes since we’ve been doing this for a few months now.

The first time I actually grew food was over in the Kresge Garden in 2011, my first year here. I was 18, 19 years old, and I remember being so amazed to see food grow. I had never done it before. So, I just really appreciate the chance my daughter has to see food grow and to know that it comes from the ground and not from a box. This has been invaluable to me living here in FSH.

We have such a diverse community in Family Student Housing. People come from all over the world– China, Lebanon, Canada, Mexico– to study here, and all these families have so much culture to share. The FSH administration and RAs have done a great job bringing families together and creating intentional programs that allow families to share their individual cultures and to have an open space where people can break down cultural barriers. I feel like I have had a well rounded experience here and that my daughter is getting a great start to her life and education.