Welcome to Green Gal's blog, where you'll find stories, recipes, gardening updates, and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems. This blog is written by a young woman entrepreneur who is also a beginning farmer-gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Kickin' ice plant bootay!"

On Saturday, UCSC students who'd participated in Wilderness Orientation (and their friends and roommates) took vans down to
Younger Lagoon Reserve in Santa Cruz to volunteer. It was day one of WICKED Work Days, an annual tradition after WO. It was a day full of hard work, dirt, mice, and deliciously fresh sandwiches.

We met at 9 AM in Quarry Plaza on campus and had bagels, which brought me right back to Wilderness Orientation, during which I'd consumed many bagels. The dining halls weren't open yet, so I didn't have any coffee. I was concerned I'd get a headache, since I drink that delicious black goodness every morning. I had a drop of coffee left in my reusable mug, so I drank it and prayed that it would be enough.

Ari hiding his face from the camera in the early morning at Quarry Plaza

The vans drove us down toward the water to Younger Lagoon Reserve, which is used by UCSC for research. As UCSC students, we have open access to the reserve. After a brief introduction to the area, our group split into two.
Will giving an introduction to the Lagoon

My group headed over to a large patch of ice plant, which is an invasive plant originally planted to help with erosion along the coast. It grows very tightly and holds the soil in place, but it doesn't allow other plants, like natives, to grow there. It's also very heavy, which actually causes erosion. Ice plant = bad. We each grabbed a pair of gloves and started ripping those bad boys out of the soil. It was tough work, and I was covered in dirt and sweat within fifteen minutes. It was quite rewarding when you got a hugely long-rooted one and could just keep uprooting it until it broke. Mice living in the ice plant scurried away from us, though some students tried to catch them. The piles of ice plant behind us grew larger and larger. After a few hours, we'd mostly cleared the patch of ice plant, which was awesome! (And fortunately, I never got a headache!)
The plant covering the ground behind Will is ice plant. We ripped out most of it!

It may have been because we were starving from hard work, but the lunch they served us was so refreshing and tasty! Sandwiches with fresh tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, mustards, lettuce, and for those who eat it, cheeses and various meats. The oranges we peeled after stuffing our faces smelled and tasted amazing.

After eating, I saw a lovely yellow flower near the picnic tables and asked a guy who works at the reserve what it was. He said it's called Hiker's primrose, and he told me the scientific name, but I didn't write it down. (Today, I purchased a UCSC natural history guide and cannot wait to start learning more about the plants on and around campus!)

The day ended with a tour of the Seymour Marine Center. We saw the research dolphins that they have in captivity, and I instantly thought of The Cove. At the end of the tour, we all stood inside the Blue whale skeleton's mouth. That whale is enormous, like 60-something feet long!

It was a strenuous but rewarding day. We sure kicked some iceplant "bootay," as Ari put it. Quite, WICKED, indeed.

Now I'm off to do the homework I should have been doing while I wrote this post!
Green Gal

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Life is AWESOME!

Ok, so it's definitely been way too long since my last post. Since August 5, my last time writing on Green Gal, I went backpacking, learned things about myself that will help me find balance during the new school year, made new friends, moved into my new home in the forest of UC Santa Cruz, learned how to become comfortable with co-ed bathrooms, and officially became a college student! No wonder I haven't posted for so long!

I just put my first load of laundry into the washing machine in my house's bathroom. Actually, it's my first load of laundry that I've ever done by myself (ok, so my roommate Monica helped me, but next time, I'll do it solo!). Since I have half an hour before it's finished, I figured I'd pass the time by updating the blogosphere on my life and happenings.

It's fairly well known that UC Santa Cruz is a pretty "green" place. Recycling and reducing and all that good stuff is really prevalent. Living in a forest helps maintain the respectful mentality, at least for most people. We have wildlife living among us--I see deer every day, raccoons most evenings, and squirrels are everywhere. We can also see Monterey Bay from many places on campus. I can walk for less than 5 minutes from my dorm room and see either the ocean or be completely surrounded by trees. Being that close to natural beauty is a good reminder of what we should aim to protect and keep wholesome. The other morning, my friend and I hiked into upper campus and explored the trails. The next day, we met at 5am on the Stevenson Knoll to watch the sunrise--the weather was awful, so we just sat in the cold for a few hours. But the ocean was right there in front of us and the forest was behind us. I live on the best campus ever!
Exploring upper campus

In late August, I went on Wilderness Orientation through UC Santa Cruz. The trip was hugely important in my realization of things about myself that will help me with college so I don't become overburdened with any one aspect of life. Balance, balance, balance. On the trip, I made some really awesome friends. It's so fun to see other kids from Wilderness Orientation around campus. We all have t-shirts from the trip and everytime I see one I'm tempted to shout "WO!"

Yesterday was OPERS Fest, the Office of Physical Education, Recreation & Sports festival. Various organizations from all over campus had booths with sign up sheets and free stuff (which is ALWAYS super wasteful, unfortunately). There was an entire tent area devoted to the environmental groups on campus. I had already signed up for many of their email lists, but picked up fliers and looked around. I hope to find one that I really enjoy, so I can become involved in the environmental effort on campus. My college, Stevenson, has its own environmental group, and it's starting a garden, which I may become involved with. Instead of dining hall food for dinner, the festival served local, sometimes organic vegetables, fruits and bread. I had some delicious tomatoes, and lots of strawberries. Yum!

Classes start tomorrow, which is terrifying and exciting. I'm looking forward to getting into a routine because this past week has consisted of a lot of little events scattered throughout the week and tons of wandering around trying to figure out something to do. Welcome Week has been fun, but it does feel like it's time for work to get done.

Yesterday my boyfriend Ari, whom I met on WO, trimmed my hair because it was getting too long and I refused to go to the barber. He did a nice job, and I didn't have to go to the salon and waste all that time and money and water. (At salons, they always wash your hair and use up shampoo and then waste energy drying it. Just find a nice boy with a pair of scissors!)

Last night, they closed the Boardwalk to the public and the whole place was filled with UCSC students. I hadn't been on rollercoasters in about a year, and it was definitely a thrill to get thrown around and up and down. Afterwards, I put my bare feet in the ocean and looked at the large moon resting in the cloud-blanketed sky. As the water pulled at my ankles and sunk me into the sand, I thought about how lucky I am to have places of solace where I can retreat when classes get stressful and I need to unwind.

Well, my laundry is probably just about finished washing. I hope to get back on track with posting to Green Gal, so I will try to make an effort to post at least once a week. Thank you for reading :)

Happy Fall!
Green Gal

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