History of Roger's Urban Farmlab
Reasons for Founding RCG
Roger's Community Garden started in 2008 after our initial student founders secured a grant leasing the property in the Southern Eucalyptus Grove of UCSD's Revelle College. At first, RCG was a small student community garden, a place where groups could come together and grow fresh, organic food on campus. Soon, several other gardens also popped up in each of the residential colleges, enabling more students to grow.
During the period between 2013 and 2015, RCG quickly expanded, and built new infrastructure. We installed irrigation pipelines to support these an expanded number of garden plots, and add water hookups for future projects. It was noticed that many in the La Jolla and UTC areas didn't have any community gardens, so it was decided that a portion of these new plots would be set aside for individuals to rent at highly affordable prices. Furthermore, RCG decided to start donating all extra produce from the public (not-owned) plots to the Triton Food Pantry and Triton Food Recovery Network, to combat student hunger in those who either didn't have the time, money, or interest in gardening.
Additionally, RCG offered a variety of lectures during this time open to all UCSD students. We had a large number of professors give talks on a wide-range of topics, from Colony Collapse Disorder to permaculture and grafting.
As of 2018, RCG joined with Dr. Keith Pezzoli of the Bioregional Center for Sustainable Research, Planning, and Design. In August, RCG members met with Executive Vice Chancellor Simmons, and with Environmental Health and Safety, UCSD Facilities Management, and others to help institutionalize and cement Roger's as a core feature of the campus.
Furthermore, RUF has placed an emphasis on student research projects, particularly in the areas of anaerobic digestion, aquaponics, and zero-waste food production. As a result of this we have also now changed our named to 'Roger's Urban Farmlab' to boost the student projects and connect these dedicated students and groups with the project funding they need through various, third-party grants.
At RUF, art is a necessary component in STEM (STEAM!). Without the creative thinking art teaches, these out-of-the-box research solutions wouldn't have been drempt up. Furthermore, art helps bridge those outside of STEM majors, sparking their interest in how the advances in technology and sustainability can also be aesthetically pleasing and engaging with the community around it. We are always looking for art students interested in collaborating to help connect beauty with intelligent design.
Landscaping and Botanical Garden
As many of our projects can sometimes look dreary, RUF enjoys intertwining native vegetation with these food-production systems. The garden regularly supplies succulent cuttings for events and terrariums around campus and are looking to expand onto sites like Ebay and Etsy to begin selling rooted cuttings of our vast collection while creating a student job in doing so.
Computer Science for Agriculture
Computer Science for Agriculture (CSA) exists to create a tie-in for computer science students, organizations, and faculty looking to integrate their computer science/engineering into environmental and food-based projects. CSA works broadly within the computer science field with students and groups dedicated to in-lab research. Many of our projects haven't been done on a wide-spread scale, so students are learning how to build, code, and design hardware and software packages in issues rarely worked on before.
Programming: C++, Python, Linux Kernal
Hardware: Raspberry Pi, Arduino
Construction Sensors, Solenoids, Relays
Furthermore, students can also work in in-field research: deployment of sensors, mapping, data collection, and troubleshooting with the other various student projects (aeroponics, anaerobic digestion, hydroponics, etc.) At CSA, the focus is not only collecting useful data, but developing web/app-based methods to relay and make that data coherent. Eventually, there are goals to start designing machine-learning algorithm to automate portions of the garden.
Health Sciences Mentorship Grove
In addition to being a traditional community garden, RUF is a living laboratory of student innovation and research. Our mission of agricultural research developed in response to students' and student organizations' desire for experiential learning and hands-on projects. As a result, RUF hosts several of its own projects through our own research division, Computer Science for Agriculture, and has teamed up with various engineering organizations to host their projects on RUF property.
All projects at RCG aim to make real differences at the University, hoping to meet and expanding system-wide sustainability. We hope to play a large part in the CNI and GFI initiatives set forth by UC President Janet Napolitano by designing and integrating new technologies that can reduce the impacts of terrestrial food production.
RUF is working on expanding and better integrating with the UCSD community at large. At RUF, we hope to design small spaces on campus to utilize UCSD's micro-climate to grow crops and provide relaxation and study spaces for students.
We also work with our sister garden, Ocean View Growing Grounds, to ensure a larger segment of the San Diego population has continuing access to fresh produce. Projects are first proposed and designed at RCG, and once proven, are built on a larger and more cost-effective scale at OVGG.
Realizing the problems caused by a rapidly increasing global population, University of California President Janet Napolitano has set up two system-wide goals:
Furthermore, RUF hopes to make an impact on UCSD's climate goals. The UC Office of the President has asked campuses to reduce carbon emissions in a bid to become carbon-neutral by 2025. While there are some major ways to cut down on carbon, we simply cannot reach a net zero without taking into account food.
That's why RUF is proud to say we have both Carbon Neutrality and Global Food Initiative Fellows working to solve the problem of food waste and post-consumer waste emissions.