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Campus Life

University of the Pacific to Build an Organic Community Garden

Generous Gift from Regent Walter Robb to Benefit Pacific and Greater Stockton
Apr 16, 2012

Pacific's Stockton campus will soon have an organic community garden that will produce a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables for students and local food banks and provide rich experiential learning opportunities, thanks to Regent and Whole Foods co-chief CEO Walter Robb.  

The Ted and Chris Robb Garden is named in honor of his sons, both of whom are Pacific Alumni. Ted Robb graduated in 2002 and Chris Robb graduated in 2006. Walter Robb's $100,000 gift will underwrite the garden's design, construction and partial maintenance costs. 

The garden is being established next to the greenhouse on the South Campus, near the DeMarcus Brown Studio Theatre.

"The entire Pacific community is excited by the garden," said Elizabeth Griego, Vice President for Student Life. "A large contingent of students pushed hard for an organic garden on the Stockton campus, and Walter stepped up to the plate to make this a reality."

The Ted and Chris Robb Garden further underscores Pacific's ongoing commitment to sustainability. Two years ago, Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento established an organic community garden on that campus. Pacific's Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco hosts a weekly farmer's market on its campus which offers foods grown by Bay Area farmers.

Last year, several Eberhardt School of Business MBA students and professors worked with the Stockton non-profit organization PUENTES to create a business plan for a Stockton community garden. That garden is being developed in Boggs Tract on land donated by the Port of Stockton. Food developed there will be sold locally, including to Bon Appétit, Pacific's food service provider.

Gardeners on the Stockton campus project will not use harmful pesticides and chemicals that can leach into local waterways. As with the Boggs Tract Garden, Bon Appétit will use garden produce from the Robb Garden in featured meals. Locally grown and consumed fruits and vegetables reduce transportation costs and emissions.

Several Pacific professors plan to integrate the garden into class curriculum and labs. Assistant Sociology Professor Alison Alkon, for instance, hopes to significantly involve her students in the garden's operation to extend their knowledge of food systems, sustainability and issues related to socioeconomic inequalities. Student internships also will be available.

Biological Sciences Associate Professor Mark Brunell and Sustainability Director Shanna Eller will oversee the Ted and Chris Robb Garden. Organic gardening authority John Jeavons will assist with construction and garden planting.

In keeping with Pacific's commitment to outreach, The Ted and Chris Robb Garden will serve the local community in several ways.

University professors and local farmers will hold workshops and continuing education classes at the garden about organic gardening, planting techniques, and natural pest control, among other subjects.  Pacific will donate a portion of the garden's produce to local food banks that provide access to whole foods to the Stockton area's most underserved and vulnerable groups. Finally, San Joaquin County primary and secondary students can take field trips to the garden to learn about sustainability, nutrition and farming.

"The Ted and Chris Robb Garden will be a great addition to University of the Pacific and a living laboratory for our students and faculty," Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck said. "The garden will also allow the University to build bridges to the community through donations to food banks and on-site classes for local residents and school children."

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