100 Percent Organic + 100 Percent Innovative = 100 Percent SPC

October 3, 2018

Public Information Officer

ST. PHILIP'S COLLEGE ANNOUNCES REMAINING COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER DAYS AT EAST SIDE COMMUNITY GARDEN

St. Philip's College invites all to help San Antonio go healthier and greener by sharing knowledge this season as weekly guest volunteers in the first working 100 percent organic community garden on San Antonio’s East Side.

The 6,500 square-foot East Side Community Garden with multiple organic garden plots where gardeners can take organic produce home for meals became a globally-recognized innovation of the college following its initiation by a group of seniors who are assisted by volunteers and neighbors. In addition to increasing food resources for local seniors on fixed incomes in the food desert of East Side San Antonio, the college has found opportunities to give back by helping to improve the nutritional value of the up-and-coming organic garden located between residences at 1715 N. Center St.

In October and November, students plant vegetables that will be ready to harvest in the following spring. In December, the students learn, mulch and clean the space. In the interim, the students are also educated on what and why they are growing organic. As the students learn, mulch and maintain the garden that has been prepared for vegetables that will be harvested next year, they’ll share information with volunteers from the community on how anyone can do what they are doing.

Several years in the making, the project is sustained in part through funding by Alamo Colleges District in its commitment to champion student success, known as an Instructional Innovation Grants initiative. The Alamo Colleges Foundation has invested up to $10,000 at the college for two years to reinforce and deepen a pervasive culture of innovation throughout the district. One of the Year Two (2017-2018 academic year) projects funded included the organic garden as an extended classroom.

Goals of the grant include educating, informing and advising St. Philip’s College students and Eastside Promise Zone community members on best practice sustainable health and wellness initiatives. As the program matures, the seasonal appeals for community volunteers and sharing information on the opportunity have become a bit more laid back, but community members are still welcome to join, according to this season’s project organizers, college faculty members Katy White and Mary Cottier.

The proposal for the $10,000 grant had specific attainable goals which would not have been possible without the funding received. The garden team was able to purchase organic insect repellents, tablets, and garden tools.

The grant also made it possible to start a Leadership Scholar Program where the college trained six students as leaders in civic engagement. These students were given training materials and shadowed faculty throughout the semesters in planning meetings, workshops and post workshop reflections. They were trained to lead at events such as garden workdays, and beforehand in how to organize an event.

St. Philip's College research chemist-educator Lourdes Alba took the benefits of the garden to a national audience this summer. Alba shared her knowledge of the garden and more during the 20th anniversary class of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship in Washington, D. C., in June. Her takeaways after working with other fellows in the District are helping in the promotion of the USDA and its initiatives among students, faculty, staff and the St. Philip's College communities as a whole---including the current garden project.

Here’s a look at the 2018 SPC Community Garden Volunteer Work Day project schedule:

Oct. 5 | 9 a.m.-noon | East Side Community Garden | 1715 N. Center St. | Parking and walking or car-pooling from the college is recommended due to limited neighborhood parking. The campus is located at 1801 Martin Luther King Dr. 

Oct. 19 | 9 a.m.-noon | 9 a.m.-noon | East Side Community Garden | 1715 N. Center St. | Parking and walking or car-pooling from the college is recommended due to limited neighborhood parking. The campus is located at 1801 Martin Luther King Dr.

Nov. 2 | 9 a.m.-noon | East Side Community Garden | 1715 N. Center St. | Parking and walking or car-pooling from the college is recommended due to limited neighborhood parking. The campus is located at 1801 Martin Luther King Dr. 

Nov. 16 | 9 a.m.-noon | 9 a.m.-noon | East Side Community Garden | 1715 N. Center St. | Parking and walking or car-pooling from the college is recommended due to limited neighborhood parking. The campus is located at 1801 Martin Luther King Dr.

Dec. 7 | 9 a.m.-noon | East Side Community Garden | 1715 N. Center St. | Parking and walking or car-pooling from the college is recommended due to limited neighborhood parking. The campus is located at 1801 Martin Luther King Dr.

CAPTION: Archival images of St. Philip's College students giving back at the East Side Community Garden are a reminder that the next day of garden work in the first working 100 percent organic community garden on San Antonio’s East Side is Oct. 5. Also among the archival images, St. Philip's College research chemist-educator Lourdes Alba shared her knowledge of the garden and more for a national audience during the 20th anniversary class of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s E. Kika De La Garza Fellowship in June in Washington, D. C. Her takeaways after working with other fellows in the District are helping in the promotion of the USDA and its initiatives among students, faculty, staff and the St. Philip's College communities as a whole. ((Student gardening images are SPC images | Alba images are courtesy SPC images by Julysa Sosa)