Student Organic Gardening Association (SOGA)
Virginia x Walnut St
Founded in 1971, SOGA is a quarter acre community garden located on the corner of Virginia and Walnut St. Home to fruit trees, a greenhouse, 15+ crop beds, a covered swing, a food preparation station, and benches for hosting classes or workshops, the space provides students and community members with a multi-faceted way to engage with agriculture. Produce from SOGA is given to the Berkeley Student Food Pantry, garden volunteers, or community members who visit the space. Anyone who comes by SOGA is welcome to harvest whatever is in season.
The variety of plants cultivated at SOGA allows students to experience multiple types of crop production, from cut flowers to perennial vegetables to herbs to fruit. Through this experience, students may explore numerous types of agricultural work. For students interested in careers in agriculture, SOGA is a perfect exploratory site, helping them determine which type of agriculture most interests them. For other students, the garden is an ideal location to get in touch with the Earth and understand the beauty and complexity of food production. As outdoor education becomes less common, gentrified, or replaced by buildings, SOGA provides all students with a hands-on way to engage with real agroecosystems.
HISTORY & VISION
SOGA has long been a space of resistance. In the mid-1990s, the UC Berkeley administration attempted to sell the entire garden to the East Bay Municipal Utilities District. In response, ten Conservation and Resource Studies students confronted the dean of College of Natural Resources, demanding SOGA be preserved for student research, experiments, and learning. The students and administration arrived at a compromise, and only half of the Garden was allocated to EBMUD. The other half resiliently stands today as the Student Organic Garden.
SOGA hopes to continue this spirit of resistance by reckoning with the garden’s historical racism and building a more inclusive and equitable environment. As the garden grows into the next decade, we focus our efforts on including, honoring, and uplifting BIPOC communities at UC Berkeley. SOGA has historically been built up by BIPOC communities, such as the members of Black Earth Farms, and we recognize our duty to ensure that all individuals are welcomed and supported by SOGA.
We can be contacted directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org