David Larom, Sustainability Professor at SDSU

“I’m David Larom. I teach at San Diego State University and I’m very passionate about global food security, about agriculture, gardening, and teaching college students about that in particular. Up at State, there’s a real shortage of agricultural or gardening space. Now, we are fixing that with a college area community garden which we’ll talk about later. In the meantime, here at my house down in Bonita, we have an acre of land and I have just decided to jumpstart as much agriculture as I can. So we’re taking this property and trying to make it into a showpiece for sustainable agriculture. We’ve constructed this greenhouse that you see around us with the help of my ISCOR Food Security Interns. They’re majoring in international security and conflict resolution and this is the ISCOR food security internship. They each volunteer 150 hours working on something related to that topic, international security, conflict resolution and in this case, food security. We are learning about sustainable farming here on this property which we’re tentatively calling [Tirada] Bonita. We want to make it into a showpiece for how to do it right for the small farmer, the homeowner, or just a gardener. We even want to do some outreach to the developing world as well.”

“I think it’s very empowering for the SDSU students and we’ve had a process of mutual discovery. I’m not a global expert on agriculture. I’m an environmental scientist and lecturer who decided that he cared about this more than anything and it’s time to learn because our food security is threatened. So I get my students out here and a lot of times I’ll give them a project and encourage them to take the initiative. You may see some terraces up behind us. I said, ‘Why don’t you figure out how to terrace these slopes?’ And they did. They got out pieces of lumber and cut it and strapped it on and pounded big stakes in and did all kinds of just absolutely amazing stuff all by themselves. We planted perennial ryegrass and other grasses in the terraces. We’re going to put in legumes and eventually orchard trees. In many ways all I have to do is point them in a certain direction and say, ‘Go!’ And they just take the ball and run with it. It’s amazing. It’s really fun that way.”

“So the College Area Community Garden is the result of two years of very hard work by a lot of us. In particular a local contractor and homeowner in the college area named Henry Burke has been driving this, but I’m the faculty representative of the College Area Community Garden. We will have plots for community members, for faculty, staff, and students, everyone can have the right to rent a plot there. We also have a research and education area. That’s going to be a very small area. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve written numerous grant proposals and tried to get a larger decent sized gardening space on campus for education. I think it is coming, but I’ve been frustrated with the slowness of it. So I purchased this property down here because I want to get moving on agriculture anyway. Then it just seemed like a no-brainer to get my students down here too and say, ‘Come on, let’s go! Hands on. Right now. We’re going to do it.’ It’s been wonderful, but we do look forward to their being a component closer to campus as well.”