Monthly Archives: February 2017

History of AVCG

A Brief History of Community Gardening on the UCI Campus

 

By Char and Tim Bradley

 

The original community garden, located at the corner of Campus Drive and University Drive, was started as part of a horticultural class taught by Professor Joe Arditti, from the School of Biological Sciences.  When the class was not being taught, other interested people on campus worked the plots.  Eventually, the horticulture class was not offered and the garden became a community garden.

 

In 1999 the campus decided to expand Mesa Court freshman housing, which meant our garden would become a parking lot.  Luckily, Jim Craig, the Director of Student Housing, allowed us to relocate to a space near Arroyo Vista Housing.  There we established 100 garden plots, each 12′ by 16′ in size.  At this time the University required us to be a registered campus club. So we organized as Arroyo Vista Community Garden.

 

Unexpected funding became available to the University to build additional undergraduate housing.  This resulted in our garden being relocated again in 2008.  The University was very accommodating in building the garden at the current site next to Palo Verde Graduate Housing.  This site has 99 plots, each one measuring 12′ by 16′.  As part of this move, which required modifying our Constitution and Bylaws, the club officers and members-at-large decided to guarantee a minimum of 10 plots to current UCI students. We retained our initials (AVCG) but changed the name to Anteater Village Community Garden.

 

Due to the visibility of our garden at this site along Anteater Drive, we immediately acquired a waiting list for plots.  For the last several years the waiting list has remained at about 100 people and unfortunately it takes about three years to reach the top of the list.  Students sometimes move up the waitlist more quickly due to the guarantee of a minimum of 10 plots to current UCI students.

 

The Anthill Village Community Garden is the only true community garden at UCI.  We have nearly 190 members, 40% of whom are alums, retirees and other residents from the surrounding community, 60% of whom are affiliated with UCI as current students, faculty, staff, alumni or retirees.

 

The University has designated land that can be used by the AVCG Club.  Our use of this land is at the discretion of the University.  A community garden on the campus is not guaranteed.  However, we know the University is supportive of our efforts and seeks to encourage sustainability activities.  Our current location is on an earthquake fault (east – west) and has a very large water main going under the garden (north – south) that serves graduate housing and University Hills.  So we are hopeful that this location will be continuously available to the club for many years to come.

 

The University requires that our plots be continuously worked so that the garden remains attractive.  Our club has chosen to establish crews that work to keep the club functioning well.  All members are expected to volunteer a minimum of 12 hours per year.  This plan has been working well for several years.  The University requires that two of the three officers be current UCI faculty, staff or students.  This is probably the most challenging requirement. Although alums and retirees are a vital part of the club, less than one-third of our members are current UCI faculty, staff or students.

 

Community gardens are increasingly important as housing becomes more and more dense, often without sufficient land to grow anything.  Additionally, community gardens help people to grow more of what they eat, provide a sustainable environment, and encourage collaboration amongst people who enjoy growing plants.  Our Events Crew organizes several activities each year that are open to our club members and their families.  Lastly, we want to mention that many members of the local UCI community, including visiting family and young children, frequently and regularly walk through the garden just to enjoy looking at what gardeners are growing.

 

Editor’s Note:

Char and Tim Bradley joined the community garden about 25 years ago and took part in the club organization as it was at that time.  Due to their roles at UCI (Char was University Registrar and Tim was a professor and Chair of the Academic Senate in 2007-08), they were positioned to help represent the goals of the garden during this critical period of transition. They both have been officers and members of the club’s steering committee for many years. Thank you Char and Tim!

–Marie Connors, Feb. 11, 2017

 

Meet the gardeners: Char & Tim Bradley

Getting to Know Char and Tim Bradley

For anyone who has spent time strolling around the southeast quadrant of our garden, it’s obvious that Char and Tim Bradley, caretakers of plots 21 and 31, share a special fondness for old garden roses, also known as heritage roses. Char says that roses are like children: they’re each unique, captivating, and remarkable. They have been collecting unusual specimens since 1999, and were happy to share their considerable expertise on the subject.

Q. Why old roses?

A. Between the 1950s and about 2000, many beautiful roses were hybridized with the goal being a single rose at the top of a strong stem, good disease resistance, and repeat bloom. However, fragrance was lost as part of the hybridizing process. Heritage roses offer fragrance, beauty, and variety. Heritage roses are ones that were first grown prior to 1910. After 1910 newly introduced roses are considered to be “modern” roses.

However, many old roses bloom only once a year. They put on a spectacular show that lasts six or eight weeks, then rest until the following year. Due to limited space, we have planted old roses that are remontant, i.e., they repeat bloom.

What’s different about gardening with old roses as opposed to modern hybrid varieties?

Heritage roses are easy to care for, although they can have more black spot than modern roses. While they are so lovely in bloom, they do not last as long in a vase as modern, hybridized roses. Often old roses are on short stems, buried in the bush. As we grew more old roses we had to retire our large vases for smaller, shorter vases to display them. Nevertheless, they are gorgeous, unique, and deserve to be enjoyed . . . and, we like to think about all of the history that these roses have witnessed. For instance, we collected five specimens in old California cemetery plots with gravestones that date back to the 1860s.

What other garden plants blend well with heritage roses?

Roses are beautiful planted along with just about anything. We’ve seen them planted near clematis, salvias, and lavender. As we focus again on planting more vegetables in our community garden plots, we can tell you that they do well next to Swiss chard, beets, onions and kale.

Where can gardeners acquire heritage roses?

The Antique Rose Emporium in Texas and Pickering Nurseries in Canada are two good sources for purchasing heritage roses. Old rose lovers are helping to keep the varieties alive by sharing cuttings and growing them in their gardens.

What are some of your favorites?

Souvenir de la Malmaison: This famous, beautifully shaped old rose dates back to 1843 from rose breeder Jean Béluze. We’ve been growing this rose in the community garden for many years. One time the rose, in a vase at our home, dropped its petals: Char counted the petals: 142!! That’s a huge amount of petals for a rose!

 

North San Juan Pink: We gathered this very fragrant pink rose from a grave in the North San Juan Protestant Cemetery; the gravestone dated in the 1860s.

 

Francis Dubreuil: This one is prized for scent and color.

 

Vick’s Caprice: This one is prized for its lovely color and shape.

 

Others (not pictured) include:

Safrano

In the early- to mid-1800s, rose hybridizers in Europe were trying to introduce yellow to the primarily pink, red and white roses that grew in Europe. Also, they were trying to introduce repeat blooming from China roses. Previously, roses in Europe bloomed once a year. The first yellow, repeat blooming rose was Safrano, introduced by Beauregard (France) in 1839. We have grown this rose in our plot, but sadly, it died several years after being replanted from our previous community garden location in Arroyo Vista.

La France

The first hybrid tea rose, which is the parent of most modern roses, was La France, introduced by Jean-Baptiste André (fils) Guillot in 1867. We are growing this rose in our garden plot.

Old Blush or Parson’s Pink China

This gem is always in bloom.

Mutabilis

This rose, introduced in 1894, blooms first in a very lovely light yellow and slowly turns to cherry red as the blooms age. This bush also is always in bloom.

Editor’s note:

Thanks to Char and Tim for their many years of service to gardening on campus!

Read more from Char and Tim on the history of gardening at UCI.

–Marie Connors, Feb. 11, 2017