Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sustainable Living at PICA

by Lidia Tropeano

Food connects us all. The intricacies of its impact on the environment and people goes beyond the consumptive, especially when realizing the many layers of social, ecological and political needs to address. It can be overwhelming, but I have found resolution in how to face these challenges by living in PICA.


The Program in Community Agroecology evolves each year with a regenerative cycle of students participating in experiential learning. At PICA, students play a vital role in achieving a greater connection to their food system by sharing knowledge with the UCSC community with the support and guidance of staff at the Sustainable Living Center. The garden is a learning tool. Living at PICA has put my studies at UCSC into context, empowering me to attain greater environmental integrity. In a diverse group of students with varied personal backgrounds and major-interests, we live together, fostering pro-community sentiment with emphasis in food and environmentally-conscious life skills.


Through student facilitated garden work days, collaborative events with other campus organizations, garden market carts, academic courses, internships, and campus outreach and education, PICA has impacted over 4,000 students. What we do at PICA contributes to the larger vision of the UCSC Campus Sustainability Plan. Our compost system engages 150 Village residents, diverting their food waste from landfill and transforming it into soil. Individuals learn tangible gardening skills such as propagation, composting and planting from student leaders within the community, thereby expanding knowledge of agroecology, food systems and self-directed learning.


My peers’ commitment to achieving a more sustainable lifestyle is inspiring. PICA has granted me a sustainable future through these experiences in college where living in an intentional community has become a model for my life.

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