Spotlight: Community & University Partnership Chris Castagna & LandPaths

August 29, 2011
Getting rid of weeds at bayer farm
Getting rid of weeds at bayer farm
Natalie Hambalek
Natalie Hambalek

The Center for Community Engagement prioritizes academic community engaged initiatives that promote sustainability and multicultural competence/diversity with a focus in Roseland. Dr. Chris Castagna of Sonoma State University's Department of Geography and Global Studies and the local non-profit organization, LandPaths, in partnership with the City of Santa Rosa,collaborate on a project that provides green space to people in Roseland. This project demonstrates an ideal example of what a reciprocal experience in service-learning should be -- that is, both the non-profit and the students receive equal benefit through the project.

"It is so helpful and is not a situation that requires us to go out of our way to get a minimal outcome - quite the opposite, we have received so much benefit." -Magdalena Ridley, LandPaths

Mitchell Hamby, a senior Marketing major and Geography 302 student, is hard at work on Bayer Farm.
Photo Credit: LandPaths

Student became aware of for the work that is involved in food production as well as a better sense of the challenges of sustainable agriculture and development. In addition, the students were also exposed to some of the issues that urban areas and people face with regard to access to green space and healthy produce. This has provided students with learning that they cannot get from lectures or textbooks alone." This experience with service-learning clearly has proven to be a valuable one for LandPaths, Bayer Farm, Dr. Castagna, and the Geography 302 students.

Students enrolled in Castagna's Geography 302 class donate their time to Bayer Farm throughout the semester to "maintain and improve the community garden's infrastructure." Magdalena Ridley and Autumn Summers, the Bayer Farmcoordinators, describe this experience as a valuable one. Tasks completed by students at the farm have include weeding, composting, planting cover crops, and harvesting produce. Castagna describes the experience as incredibly educational for her students. She stated "Most were surprised that there was a farm/community garden in the middle of Roseland." Castagna also said that a number of her students claimed that they "have never even spent time in a garden or farm before. " Many commented that they had a greater appreciation for the land as well as small farms.

Update: Dr. Castagna no longer teaches at SSU and this service-learning class has been discontinued. For more information, please contact the Center for Community Engagement.