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“Gardensgiving” celebrates sustainability, heritage and community

When Janice Setser, Pacific’s Robb Garden coordinator, brought the idea of hosting a garden event to her student interns last fall, she said they immediately got excited and went into planning mode.

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, they invited students, faculty and local community members to celebrate “Gardensgiving,” in the Robb Garden on November 17, where they shared dishes featuring fresh produce from the garden.  

“It’s basically their brainchild,” she said. “They’re the ones that named it ‘Gardensgiving.’”

This year, her team of six interns decided to share not only fresh produce, but their culture as well. They used the produce grown in the garden—carrots, beans, onions, garlic and more—to cook dishes from their home countries and family heritages.

“I have students from India, Inner Mongolia, Hawaii and Chicago. I also have students with Mexican American and Puerto Rican heritage,” said Setser. “So it was their ideas to take whatever we grow and showcase their own heritage, foods that they grew up with.”  

For Simran Nirajkumar Shah ’24, a computer science major and Robb Garden intern, sharing cultural experiences is what motivated her to get involved with the garden in the first place.

“Walking from class to class, I was always looking at this garden, at the people there. They were from different cultures…and they were doing this agriculture thing together,” Shah said. “I also wanted to join in because me and my grandfather used to [garden] together. [Through Robb Garden] I got to know different people and they taught me a lot of things about the U.S.”

Gardensgiving was also an opportunity for the Robb Garden team to showcase the work they are doing in the garden and educate the community about sustainable farming.

“It’s also cool seeing all the food being grown around me and then also eating it at the same time, so you could see the whole life cycle that it goes through and all the work,” said pharmacy major Joy Nash ’24, who attended the event.

For Setser, Gardensgiving represents the mission of the garden, which has been providing organic produce, experiential learning opportunities and connection since it was established in 2012.

“One of the most important aspects of an event like this is to celebrate community, and the Robb Garden is a hub of community,” she said. “It’s a real outpouring of support for the garden and a gratitude for the larger community that supports us as well.”

Learn more about the garden program and how Pacific is creating a sustainable future.

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