Legacy Garden

The Legacy Garden is a living laboratory where the Saint Mary’s community can enhance academic learning and achievement, promote physical and emotional health, encourage organic practices, and cultivate empathy for people and the planet. It is managed under the philosophy, ethics, and principles of permaculture and regenerative biodynamic practices

The Legacy Garden is a half-acre space on campus where a diverse range of organic food, flowers, herbs, and fruit trees are grown. The garden is also home to several thriving bee hives and worm bins. In the garden, there are several spaces to sit, be mindful, and enjoy the outdoors. Named “The Legacy Garden” by the Class of 2012, the site is fiscally sponsored by Sodexo Food Services and managed by master gardener and environmental activist, Kelli Barram, who has a wealth of knowledge in everything from soil health to natural beekeeping. 

Since its inception, the garden has been a project that involves diverse stakeholders within the SMC community. Students, staff, and faculty have contributed hundreds of service hours in the garden—planting, cultivating, building structures, and helping to sustain this picturesque resource—so that it continues to function effectively as a living, thriving, educational laboratory. Additionally, the garden maintains an active and ongoing partnership with CILSA, providing a site where many students each semester may fulfill their Community Engagement requirements for graduation. 

The Legacy Garden produces thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year, much of which shows up in the menu offerings at Oliver Dining Hall. Students, faculty, and staff who help tend the garden also have opportunities to take home some of the bounty that they have helped produce. 

Some of what is grown in the garden is used to teach about preservation methods, herbal medicines, fermentation, and many other subjects. All products created and derived from the garden thus serve a larger goal of enabling members of the community to live more resilient and sustainable lives. These products are shared with students, staff, and faculty during public events and celebrations such as the Holiday Fair and the Earth Day BBQ. All proceeds support the maintenance and ongoing educational purposes of the garden. 

Examples of items made from the garden include:

  • Tomato plant seedlings (In Spring, to be grown into maturity in one’s own garden) 
  • Fruit jams
  • Herb-infused lip and hand salves (lotions)
  • Raw honey
  • Herbal hydrosols (distilled water infused with plants selected for their medicinal properties)
  • Dried herbal teas
  • Preserved lemons

The Legacy Garden offers community members many opportunities for hands-on learning, from regenerative soil management to making jam. Workshops, classes and mini-lessons of special interest are offered at the initiation and request of students, staff, and faculty.

Everyone is welcome to work in and enjoy the fruits of the garden!

Want to get involved? Email smcsustainability@stmarys-ca.edu for more info and upcoming volunteer hours

Funded by generous contributions from supporters of the Saint Mary’s and members of the college community, the garden will reduce the college's environmental footprint by growing a portion of our own food supply.  Special thanks to Cheryl Jones and Earthbound Farm for their generous support of this project, and to The Foundation for Sustainability & Innovation for funding the purchase of a greenhouse.

Watch a short video documenting the garden installation here: How Does Our Garden Grow