Tree Huggers Tackle Treacherous Garden

Students participate in garden renovations near Nease dorm. Photo courtesy of Katrina Cloyes.

During Creation Care Week, the SEAA club (Students for Environmental Action and Awareness) held a “garden rehab” event on Saturday, Oct. 8. Families, friends and students gathered to renovate the plant life currently growing there, and the result was beautiful.

Adjacent to the west side of Nease hall, students at Point Loma Nazarene University stroll past the Nease garden daily. Withering plants, empty plots of faded land and overgrown bushes are merely some ways to describe the state of the garden these past months. But not anymore.

Fourth-year student and president of SEAA Jessica Saavedra-White helped facilitate the event and assign jobs to those arriving. Saavedra-White is studying environmental studies with a concentration in social justice. She has an unwavering passion for saving and utilizing the environment for the campus’s benefit.

“Our vision for this [the garden] is for it to be the Nease meditation or prayer garden, and I think this is a really good location for that,” said Saavedra-White. The location provides optimal conditions for the garden as it receives less foot traffic than other places on campus. “We’re going to focus on planting native plants in this garden and then also planting plants that are important for pollinators.” But before new plant life is able to blossom, the garden has to be redone.

The work done during the event focused on three areas of improvement: painting the fence, taking out screws, removing plots and trimming the invasive acacia tree that resides next to the garden. The SEAA club wants the garden to be a self-sustaining ecosystem where everything is intermingling. During 2021, the club worked to figure out who was in charge of the garden, going back and forth with ASB and the sustainability department. SEAA began weeding the land and cleaning out the tool shed, but they couldn’t accomplish major renovations without being in full control. 

The sustainability department ultimately held responsibility for the upkeep of the garden before SEAA took over; however, Gailey said the SEAA club found it increasingly difficult to maintain communication with whoever was in charge. This is because students would graduate, move on and forget about their plots of land.

After adding new members in 2022, the sustainability department agreed to partner with SEAA in rehabilitating the Nease garden. Now, with full jurisdiction over the renovation of the garden, head garden manager and member of SEAA Josh Gailey has huge dreams for this little garden. Gailey is a third-year student, double-majoring in biology and philosophy.

“Now it’s happening. We got approval, so we’re going for it. Depending on what we do with fences we’ll have a circular or straight path that comes through the front gates, and then benches, trees and flowers that will be going all around here,” said Gailey, gesturing to the perimeter. “The big plan is something that is more permanent for students.” Permanence and sustainability were two major themes of the clean-up event, considering the garden has been in existence for many years yet left unattended some years.

SEAA club said they have hopes for a future online sign-up, where students can sign up to grow plants if they desire and take care of existing plant life as well. This would prevent the issue of forgotten plants. Benches will be included to aid students in decompressing after a long day of classes. In order to pay for these things and begin planting as soon as possible, the SEAA club is in need of possible grants, funding, etc.

Caroline Saple, second-year environmental science major, team member of SEAA, and member of the fellowship of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action spoke of current funding for the garden.

  “What they [fellowship] are doing is funding us and helping us pursue a project that’s on campus and engages the community to work toward environmental stewardship,” said Saple, shovel in hand. The sunny October day made for sweaty brows and parched throats; however, parents and students kept trickling in through the gates to do their part for the garden.

“I’m super excited about how many people showed up, it’s been really awesome to see how many people support our vision for the garden and we definitely could not have done this without all of the help we have received,” said the vice president of the SEAA club Bailey Pickard, a second-year biology-chemistry and philosophy major. “The Point Loma community in general is really supportive and helpful and I’m really thankful for that.”

After two hours of hard work, the garden was a nearly empty plot of land. What was once overgrown is now transformed into a blank canvas for SEAA to design the perfect space for those who need it. This reflection place will serve as a safe haven for students who want to pray, meditate or study in peace. SEAA and the sustainability department hope to continue renovation of the garden and will be in communication with The Point to facilitate more exposure for their project and gain more help.
Contact the President of SEAA for more information.

Written By: Shelby York