Dispatches from the Future
Building from the Ground Up
Rolling into town on the muggy spring morning of graduation, it’s cooled down a bit since this years heat waves. The town after 15 years it’s changed, the sky has a grey cast and the greenery that once made the “City of Trees” a vast green sea is more grim and bleak. It’s graduation day, the big one, the 150th. Black grad ceremony has always been a special event, I’m just happy I get to be back to help with my nephews ceremony. Climate change hit Northern California hard in the years since I left; heatwaves, erosion of soil, desertification, salinisation, floods, the farmland was basically depleted especially at the University Farm. The extreme weather in the winters and summers ruined the crops the year of 25’ and left the students of Chico State that relied on the food pantry searching for food.
The 2035 flood left half of campus in ruins and washed away any progress that was made with the soil on the farm. With the soil being in a barren state, specialists tried to do to improve the quality of the soil with different organic matter and experiments. The flood set everything back. The food pantry closed down shortly after when the farm became barren and local farmers weren’t having any luck either in trying to get any crops to grow from the soil. In student surveys homelessness and going hungry were two of the biggest problems and there was no way to really help. The food pantry and food programs shut down, and financial assistance was low. With student enrollment numbers dropping and agriculture disappearing in the area the CSU needed to cater to their students needs and also adapt to get to where they were environmentally in order for them to have fresh local food and to reopen these programs that helped the students so much back in 2017.
In order to get the farm back to a healthy state for crops to grow, the grounds keepers needed the numbers to help with all the acres there. Students who were interested got university credits and hands on work on the farm. Over the years the soil had gotten to a place where it was fruitful by crop rotation, heavily relying on the greenhouses on the farm, and switching to organic chemical free environment really helped, and the food pantry reopened when the farm got to a point where crops were plenty and edible. Plant and Soil classes used their lab time slots to help work on growing produce and Nutrition classes held free classes to educate students on how to cook healthy affordable meals with the farm crops. Composting became a regular part of campus life and everyone continually helps with the donations and growth of the food pantry and awareness of the hungry wildcat program. Today I volunteer to help cook the food for the Black Grad Ceremony, the first catered event with food all from the farm. Although the pantry and farm is not where it was when it was in its prime, it's a start.
-- Aanisa Williams