16:07 PM

Environmental Studies Student Takes Garden to New Heights

By Bri Phillips

Tucked away on the east side of campus behind the Center for Children and Families, Cal State San Marcos’ garden commonly goes unnoticed by students. 

“When I came to San Marcos, I was shocked when I found out there was a 7,000-square-foot garden space,” said Hali Scott, an environmental studies student. 

Scott was first introduced to CSUSM’s garden in 2021. At the time, there were few plants due to the pandemic. With 15 years of gardening experience and knowledge of holistic medicine, Scott knew she could help revitalize the space into something great for students to enjoy.

“I remember I would work in the garden for eight hours and I would not see one person come in,” Scott said. “My goal is to have more students know about the garden. I want them to feel comfortable stopping by. I've worked in other community gardens before and seen spaces just completely transformed, and that’s what I wanted to do at CSUSM.”

Scott has helped bring the garden back to life, and now there’s more produce than she knows what to do with. 

“During the summer, I was basically throwing zucchinis in people's cars because the garden grew so much,” Scott said.

Since January 2022, Scott has been a garden manager, helping to ensure the space is engaging and educational for the campus community. Scott has worked hand-in-hand with the Environmental Stewards Association (ESA) to help rebuild the garden since the pandemic. 

There are about 30 members in the association today, and students participate in weekly meetings during U-Hour. The ESA has built a close-knit community of students who care and work to improve the garden.

“I’ve seen Hali put 110% of herself into this garden,” said Raul Ricardez, a history student who is an ESA member and also runs the garden’s native pollinator section. “It’s been great working together with her to build the ESA community and bounce ideas off each other.” 

Ricardez is one of the many students in the ESA who have a special connection to the garden. It’s become an outlet for Ricardez to honor his father, who died during the pandemic. 

“My dad always had a connection with the land and plants, and I didn't know that he was planting those seeds in me,” Ricardez said. “That’s what got me started with gardening, and Hali taught me a lot more.”

Ricardez, Scott and the ESA have worked together to be resourceful about supplying for the garden. Scott asks local nurseries for small donations and hopes to create more fundraising opportunities for the garden before she graduates this fall.

“It has been so cool to find a community that cares about gardening as much as I do,” Scott said. “It’s so rewarding to say that I can feed people.

“'I’m 30, and I've had 15 years to be able to learn about plants. I’ve been trying to find my path in life. I thought I wanted to be a sustainability consultant after I graduated. But now I'm thinking I have to do something with gardening and plants.”

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist

ebreier@csusm.edu | Office: 760-750-7314