Edible Campus Program

Edible Campus Program Overview

The Edible Campus Program is working to combat food insecurity at UCSB producing fresh and sustainable food for students. UCSB is a relatively small and suburban campus, yet the Edible Campus Program has worked to identify areas that have the potential to grow food. Now they are working to re-imagine these spaces to grow food to distribute to students who face challenges in obtaining food, while also providing an education space to promote sustainable food knowledge. The Edible Campus Program is comprised of three primary parts: the campus farm, the urban orchard, and the vertical gardens project. Together, these projects will produce 25,000 of food a year to support students and more broadly the local sustainable food culture. Interested in learning more about the work they do or want to get involved? Read on!

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Edible Campus Program: An Inside View

The Edible Campus Program aims to address local food insecurity by repurposing underutilized spaces for food production, turning waste into food, and engaging students as growers and producers. Co-led by the AS Department of Public Worms, AS Food Bank, and the UCSB Sustainability Program, this project empowers the campus community, especially students, to be responsible stewards and leaders of our food system.

Many UCSB students face challenges in obtaining enough food, let alone sustainable food. Nationally, it is well documented that a large amount of university students are food insecure. UCSB data has not been released yet, but anecdotally and based on other studies, we know the number is too high. When students don’t know where their next meal is coming from, it makes it very difficult to focus on academic work and live healthy and happy lives.  

One solution is to implement more innovative models of sustainable farming on campus. The Edible Campus Program hopes to use UCSB as a pilot ground to test various methods of urban farming, which will provide food for students and support the local and sustainable food movement.  

Inside tip: Though it may look delicious, please don’t pick the produce. The Edible Campus Program must adhere to strict guidelines and food labeling practices that have to account for all the fruit and vegetables produced. Want to eat some of it? Stop by the AS Food Bank!


The Edible Campus Program started in 2011 with humble beginnings. The Department of Public Worms, which handles composting at UCSB, came up with initial idea to start some areas of food production. They started scouting for locations around UCSB during the first few years. In Spring 2015, the program took off with the urban orchard project. Two citrus trees were placed in Storke Plaza, and dedicated by Chancellor Yang. Months later, several UC Global Food Initiative fellows started working on expanding the project to include a campus farm and vertical garden. The campus farm and vertical garden will be implemented during the 2016-2017 school year, and will start giving food to students immediately. The Edible Campus Program is ultimately a student project and entirely self funded, which gives it a unique student take on sustainable food culture.

Campus Farm

The campus farm will produce 12,000 pounds of fresh produce per year to be given to students in need. Adjacent to the farm will be an educational space to teach the UCSB community the importance of growing food that is good for us and the planet. Ultimately, the farm aims to engage students as leaders of their local food system and in addressing food insecurity. As of May 2015, the Edible Campus Program is in the last stages of securing a location for the farm.

Insider knowledge: Some people are concerned that if the school tried to move the farm, students would riot, which happened at UC Berkeley. Power to the People!

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Urban Orchard

The Edible Campus Program is working to find spaces across campus, typically as small as a few square feet, to plant citrus trees. The first two in Storke Plaza are already producing fruit! Individual citrus trees can generate 400-600lbs of produce a year, thus providing a great opportunity to generate food from non-productive concrete spaces.

Insider knowledge: Jack Johnson is heavily involved in this project, and even came to UCSB when the trees were unveiled!

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Vertical Garden

Vertical gardens will be implemented to maximize space by growing vertically. This urban farming approach eliminates the need for farmable land, and allows the Edible Campus Program to turn a concrete section of a building into a sustainable food producing space. They are excellent ways to produce food in the face of reduced water from the California drought, and showcase a unique way to use what little space UCSB has!

Insider knowledge: Vertical gardens only cost $10 a year in electricity, which make them perfect for balconies in Isla Vista!

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Though still in the planning stages, the Edible Campus Program will soon be a major pillar of sustainable food culture in Isla Vista and UCSB. 25,000 pounds of fresh produce will be generated each year, which will encourage student health and wellbeing. Community members will also have the opportunity to learn about basic tenets of sustainability in a living classroom. The Edible Campus Program hopes that students and passersby will be inspired by these non-traditional avenues of growing food, and in turn, spark a campus wide sense of stewardship over where our food comes from.

Want to get involved?

Interested in sustainability, urban farming, or food system issues? The Edible Campus Program has plenty of ways to use your talent. Stop by the Sustainability Internship office in Ellison 1714 to talk to a student or advisor. You can also find them on Facebook or on their website!

Insider knowledge: TheUCSB Sustainability Internship Program is a great program that gives opportunities for students to get real world professional experience in tackling sustainability issues. A relatively unknown, but best kept secret, this program also pays the best on campus!

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