In Full Bloom

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With A New Purpose, Boxer Gardens Sets Its Own Roots

East from Hanson Stadium is a new, vibrant, peaceful “outdoor laboratory”: The Boxer Gardens.

It is a concept that, in some ways, has been replanted from a previous idea—and, in very real ways, is growing roots on campus.

For the past 15 years, Pacific University had collaborated with an off-campus farm, B Street Farms, to plant and grow berries, peppers and tomatoes—and also to integrate classroom learning into hands-on practice. The three-acre plot even supplied some fresh veggies to the school cafeteria.

But right before COVID shut down the campus, a plan was hatched to locate a growing plot right on campus—and nestled within Applied Sustainability and Environmental Science Programs. It was an opportunity to more closely connect the garden with the campus. Although one-fourth the size from the previous plot, Boxer Gardens offers a more immediate opportunities—both in terms of geography and academics.

Ron Calkins, the Coordinator for Boxer Gardens, expressed how difficult the early months of the pandemic made starting the garden. With the lack of student collaboration, the garden was at risk of being incomplete—and not only because the lack of helper hands.

“The job has always been about the students,” explained Calkins, “if you take the students away, there’s a hollowness that is hard to fill.”  

More recently, the garden has been filling up—with people and plants. From fresh herbs like chives and basil to berries and fruits, there is always something growing in the garden. But fresh tomatoes appear to be the most popular.

“We had a lot of tomatoes, but with all of the FYS classes that have come around in the last few weeks, we’ve been all picked out,” smiled Calkins.

Calkins welcomes people to visit and tour—and he also points out that there are longer-term opportunities available through the garden, such as internships, capstones, volunteer work, and various community service opportunities.

“Because the garden is an ever-changing place, there should be something new each time you come here,” says Calkins.

Homecoming Saturday, October 1, noon – 2 pm: Lunch with a local wine tasting, followed by a Boxer Garden tour. Individual lunch tickets are $25; children under 12, free. Registration is required.

— Jeyuri De la Cruz


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