It’s universally acknowledged that today’s youth have been dealt a tough hand in terms of education during the pandemic. Being one of the unfortunate students who graduated from high school and entered college in 2020, I understand this struggle.

For my peers and me, under the cloud of Covid-19, it wasn’t only difficult to acclimate to the new educational environment of college, but the social one as well.

I moved to San Luis Obispo to attend Cal Poly in the winter of 2021. I had spent a quarter at home, since my classes were all on Zoom, but those months left me feeling lonely and disconnected.

As an incoming college student, moving to a new town can be nerve-racking in the best circumstances. Adding the implications and hysteria of a global pandemic on top of these pressures made it doubly difficult.

With our classes online and other social environments like student clubs suspending their in-person meetings, I was left with some of the same feelings of dissatisfaction I’d had when attending school remotely. As someone who enjoys time spent outside and with others, it was difficult to spend so much time indoors, staring at a computer screen.

But, sometimes solutions present themselves in unconventional ways. For me, the missing pieces of my college experience were a shovel and a hand in the earth.

In my sophomore year, I discovered the Cal Poly Student Experimental Farm, a student-run community garden on my campus. Along with its personal impact on me as a source of community during a disconnected time, this garden is representative of much more.

The first time I found my campus’s garden, I was in awe of the space. It sits on a hill beneath the greater Cal Poly campus, a vast carpet of green breaking up the landscape. Among swaths of grasses sit orderly beds of cultivated plants and fruit-bearing trees, with a path leading to a fenced-off coop and pond to house the resident chickens and ducks.

This space is tended by the Cal Poly Garden Club, a community of Earth-loving students that I felt immediately connected to. Attending the weekly meetings began to feel like a sort of healing. I would look forward to Sunday mornings when I could wake up early to traverse the gravel path to the garden and work in the sunshine for several hours.

Read the full article about community gardens by Arabel Meyer at EdSource.