By CARY COBURN
Merced College Professor of Biology,

& JESSICA MORAN
Dean of Merced College Los Banos Campus.

Motivated supporters of the Los Banos Food Forest look forward to gathering together for a Community Garden Day.

This will be a day when volunteers can pool their efforts and help polish the jewel of the campus landscape and plant 85 pollinating plants.

The proposed event would be open to our community, and we would be excited to see many community members join us. Our address at the Merced College Los Banos Campus is 22240 Hwy 152 here in Los Banos. We hope to announce the date for this event soon.

This will just be Phase I of our beautification projects with new planter boxes and a renovated walkway will be Phase II.

The Los Banos Food Forest is a garden-like ecosystem consisting of oak trees, sycamores, various types of fruit trees, shrubs and other plants. The garden was originally established by a grant from Wells Fargo.

In a few years, when the trees mature, the forest will provide nectarines, plums, apricots, peaches, apples, pomegranates and pecans. The fruit trees, ground cover bushes and grasses were chosen with sustainability in mind, specifically selected for their drought tolerance. The project was in part implemented to foster a campus and community partnership.

During our previous Community Garden Day events, the tireless efforts of the M.E.Ch.A.Club students, with their boundless energy and positive spirit, accomplished a great deal of the work. Their efforts were very much appreciated.

They organized to help spread additional mulch, fill in several raised planting beds and replace a few bushes and a couple of trees that did not make it through last year’s brutal summer.

Work parties, such as the one most recently held, will continue as the forest will require ongoing maintenance and as additional components of the project are introduced.

Our current project is the creation of a pollinator garden which is in progress and will help support the declining populations of monarch butterflies.

Faculty, staff and students pose for a photo in the Food Forest amphitheater.

The Westside Express