Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Nathan Bickart (2013)

Planting in Cal's Backyard: Raised-Bed Gardens for Creeks, Kids, and Communities

Nathan’s project will focus on improving ecosystem and community health through the construction of raised-bed community gardens near Wildcat Creek, which runs through Richmond and San Pablo, CA. Riparian habitats in these communities, particularly when they occur at the end of a dead-end street, are frequently used as trash dumps by less-than-certified trash haulers, creating a hazard for the local community and driving citizens away from these natural spaces. Nathan will work with a variety of community partners, including Urban Creeks Council and the cities of Richmond and San Pablo, to build strategically placed raised-bed gardens that will prevent pick-up trucks from backing up to and polluting these neglected habitats. Furthermore, the project aims to improve the health of these challenged communities by increasing access to healthy foods (grown in the garden) and open spaces. Creek restoration will be pursued in concert with garden construction, such that the creek supports the garden (and vice versa), specifically through the provision of habitat for pollinator species that will help sustain garden plants. Community members will help to build the gardens and restore the creek, and will have full control over how the garden is managed and the fate of the food produced.

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Nathan graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2013 with a B.S. in Conservation & Resource Studies and a minor in Music. He worked extensively with the Strawberry Creek Restoration Program during his time on campus, removing non-native species, propagating native species, and teaching Creek ecology to students and community members from all over the Bay Area. His senior thesis focused on identifying native plant species that would most effectively meet the desired restoration goals at Strawberry Creek, namely preventing reinvasion by ivy and limiting nitrogen pollution of the waterway.
Nathan spends the majority of his free time at the piano, and plays with a variety of jazz groups throughout the greater Bay Area. Originally from the North Bay, he is thrilled to be able to give back to the collective communities of the SF Bay Area.

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