California Baptist University has many greenspaces across campus. One of the lesser known garden areas is Lancer Farms and Gardens, located in the Colony Apartments around the Hawthorne House.
The gardens include about 18 raised beds filled with plants ranging from lavender and sunflowers to kale and lettuce, as well as a citrus grove.
The CBU Botany Club, Environmental Science Club and CBU Facilities work together to manage and maintain the gardens.
“We wanted to provide students with access to organic vegetables, organic herbs, flowers and organic fruits because it is good for their health to be in God’s creation and in a green environment,” said Dr. Jacob Lanphere, professor of environmental science. “We also want to be good stewards of God’s creation by providing wildflowers to feed the local pollinators, which benefits our ecosystem here at CBU.”
Lanphere said that he aims to model the gardens after natural ecosystems through a permaculture concept.
“We have tried to create an environment where these plants can grow permanently without the help of humans,” Lanphere said. “When I go through seasons when I can’t be there all the time, I can always come back and hopefully it is healthy and thriving. To make sure it is healthy and thriving, I rely on God’s systems, the way God created the earth for all organisms to work together.”
Lancer Farms and Gardens provide a place for students to get involved with nature, both in and out of class. Lanphere teaches several courses, including Sustainable Agriculture, Soil and Water and Botany, in which he uses the gardens to teach students about topics ranging from plant growth in urban areas to the types of soil. However, students do not need to be enrolled in a class to enjoy the gardens.
Students can get involved in Lancer Farms and Gardens by participating in Arbor Day, which occurs once each semester and allows students to come together to work on campus beautification. Students can also join the Botany Club and the Environmental Science Club.
“Last Arbor Day, we had students at Lancer Farms and Gardens putting plants in the ground who had never planted anything ever,” Lanphere said. “We need to get back to that as a society. We should be able to grow our own food.”
Callie Totaro, senior environmental science and sustainability double major, was the botany club president for the past year. She encourages students interested in the gardens to come to club events.
“The gardens are important to campus because it is nice for the students to have a green space to go and get hands-on gardening opportunities while away from home,” Totaro said. “The garden promotes a sense of community through the events and combined efforts of the students to care for the farm.”
Alie Minium, junior environmental science major, is one of two primary caretakers for Lancer Farms and Gardens. As a caretaker, she makes decisions about what should be planted and is involved in maintaining the farms and gardens.
“Lancer Farms and Gardens is such a great place to go to get away from the busyness of life,” Minium said. “Students are welcome to harvest and enjoy the garden, as long as they’re respectful of others and the work that goes into the farm. All of the orange trees around the farm are in bloom now, so feel free to grab as many as you’d like.”
The gardens are available for all students to harvest and plant. Lanphere encourages students to go to the gardens to develop a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, citing scientific health benefits of being in nature.
“Studies have shown you improve your cardiovascular health when you are in the garden,” Lanphere said. “The soil that gets under your fingertips increases the serotonin in your brain and calms you down. The bacteria that’s in healthy soil, when you are messing with it, it gets inside of you and replenishes your gut bacteria which helps you digest food.”
The peaceful nature of gardens is especially important in high-stress environments such as college campuses.
“School can be stressful, but if you have a garden to go to, it helps you get through the tough times, and it has helped me personally,” Lanphere said.
Lanphere encourages all students from every major to enjoy the gardens and get involved.
“Anyone can go at any time,” Lanphere said. “Eat whatever you want. Plant whatever you want. It’s open. That’s the way I want it to be. It is not off-limits to anyone.”