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The entrance to the Alan Chadwick Garden

Field Trip: Alan Chadwick Garden

You can’t go to Santa Cruz, CA, without stopping by the Alan Chadwick Garden on campus at UC Santa Cruz. The 3-acre garden is where Chadwick’s philosophies became reality.

Alan Chadwick–for those who haven’t heard me blather on about him in class before–is the British bloke who combined French Intensive farming and Biodynamics into a cohesive practice in the 1960s. The Alan Chadwick Garden showcases his methods all these years later. We’ve written about UC Santa Cruz’s CASFS Farm, but not yet about the Chadwick Garden. The time has come.

Alan Chadwick Garden
The entrance to the Alan Chadwick Garden

The garden is chock-full of life, from fruit trees (mostly apples) to seasonal crops, to California native plants, to beneficial insectaries. All living in harmony without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

Alan Chadwick Garden flowers
Biodynamic French Intensive uses hexagonal spacing, interplanting, and a plethora of beneficial insectaries. In this photo you can see sunflowers, potatoes, and flowers growing together.

Built-In Pest Control

We met Buster during our visit. Buster is the incredibly friendly cat who patrols the garden for pests. We caught him mid-prowl.

Alan Chadwick Garden Buster
Buster, the resident cat, spots a critter in the garden. He’s ready to pounce.

Diversity is Key

We wandered through narrow pathways between hundreds of apple trees. Each row of crops was marked with dates, varieties, and other data for students to track.

Alan Chadwick Garden1
This 3-acre garden is crammed full of apple trees, seasonal crops, flowers and LIFE!
Alan Chadwick Garden Apples
The Garden features more than 130 varieties of apple trees, all underplanted with either flowers or seasonal crops.

Soil is our Soul

Next we wandered into the shed, where we found this reminder of why we garden.

Alan Chadwick Garden blackboard
The blackboard in the main shed shares the philosophy of a gardener’s soul.

And this sign made us laugh.

Alan Chadwick Garden Organic Fad
The sign speaks for itself.

The Take Away

In summary, the Alan Chadwick garden showcases the following techniques:

  • Intensive plant spacing to maximize yields and prevent weeds
  • Drip irrigation to conserve water
  • Biodiversity – hundreds of fruit, vegetable, and flower varieties grown together
  • Mulching to feed the soil and conserve water
  • Cover Crops to provide habitats, replenish soils, and generate organic matter.

We use these methods every season at Gardenerd and we encourage you to explore these techniques and implement them in your garden. Happy Gardening!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Marie Steckmest

    The UCSC Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden are wonderful! I feel lucky that I was at UCSC when Chadwick was around. He used to pick flowers and put them on the side of the road for students to put in their rooms. Life Lab at UCSC is also a wonderful resource for school gardeners. Visit and get inspired!!

    1. Christy

      That’s so awesome that you were there during his time! I wish I could have met him.

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