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Patty Gray Garden Program Director

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Patty Gray lends green thumb as director of Pacific's Garden Program

Sep 19, 2016

Something is happening in Pacific's Tedd and Chris Robb garden. Inviting red lounge chairs have been thoughtfully placed throughout the grounds, two golden mounds of compost bask in the sunshine and beetles and butterflies are out in force, enjoying the last of summer's harvest.

It's the handiwork of Patty Gray, Pacific's new Garden Program director.

Gray joins Pacific from National University of Ireland in Maynooth, where she taught anthropology for over eight years. After a varied career that has taken her to Alaska, Germany, Russia and, most recently, Ireland, she was ready to return to her roots in northern California.

"I saw the job posting and I just thought it was the right place at the right time," Gray said.

She was offered the position and moved to Stockton this summer with her husband, Michael Ladisch, who was hired as an associate professor and academic support librarian at Pacific.

The garden director position is a first for Pacific and reflects the university's increasing commitment to environmental stewardship through education and outreach. With Gray brandishing the rake, the garden is poised to become one of Pacific's most indispensible learning tools. Students will be able to work, volunteer and earn research and internship credits through the program.

Gray will be responsible for developing the programming, curriculum, and community-related events for the Ted and Chris Robb Garden and the adjoining Bon Appetit Management Company Native Garden on the Stockton Campus. She will do the same for the Sacramento Community Garden on the Sacramento Campus. This includes overseeing the physical upkeep of the gardens by providing compost, improving irrigation, building garden beds and rows, pruning plants and weeding. She has already hosted one "weed-a-thon" and plans to introduce more activities, including composting workshops, seed swaps, and networking opportunities for individuals growing crops in the community plots.

"Gardening is serious business!" Gray said. "It's not just about trimming rose bushes. I want to reconnect people with their capacity to grow food themselves."

Gray, whose background includes studying "dacha" gardens and reindeer herding communities in Post-Soviet Russia, also serves as a faculty member in the Environmental Studies Program. This semester she is co-teaching Introduction to Environmental Studies with Professor Lydia Fox and will teach Food Activism, a PACs II course, in the spring.

When she's not tending to tomatoes, Gray can be seen selling produce from the Robb Garden in the DeRosa Center every Wednesday through November 23.

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