A group of students in Dublin who call themselves "Gardeners of the Galaxy" lead an initiative providing microgreens they grow themselves to help feed local charities and schools.
They were awarded a $1,500 mini-grant from the city of Dublin's Youth Advisory Committee to help fund their operations.
"I was very happy to see that the city of Dublin's Youth Advisory Committee awarded Gardeners of the Galaxy with a substantial grant to continue their fine work in cultivating microgreens, which have provided healthy food options to the students at the Dublin Unified School District, Tri-Valley food pantries, and others in need," Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez said.
"It is so inspiring to see these young people in our community take the mantle to address hunger and nutrition," she added.
The Gardeners of the Galaxy group was founded in 2019 as a business but transformed into a nonprofit initiative in 2020. It was Arjun Karur-Parekh that recognized the need to fight against food insecurity and hunger.
"The Gardeners of the Galaxy was created based on the idea and inspiration that founder Arjun Karur-Parekh had when his parents -- who are both doctors -- informed him about the food insecurity situation in the community, particularly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic," vice president Hari Ganesh said.
The organization consists of five members including Arjun and Neel Karur-Parekh, Preston Chiu, Nico Singh and Ganesh as they work together to grow microgreens in coconut coir, growing media with seeds sourced from High Mowing Organic Seeds.
They produce 15 to 25 trays a week in 10-inch-by-20-inch trays in an approved and licensed garage with a homegrower certification from Alameda County.
"Arjun and Neel grow the microgreens at their home, producing 15-25 trays per week. They handle the entire process from cultivation to harvest, while their parents assist with deliveries," Ganesh said.
They donate their greens raw and fresh to Culinary Angels Food Pantry and nonprofit organization Fertile GroundWorks for them to prepare and serve the greens for those in need.
In addition to donating, the microgreens provided by Gardeners of the Galaxy are served as fresh salads at Dublin High School, an effort coordinated by director of nutritional services Frank Castro.
Gardeners of the Galaxy estimate they have fed over 6,400 people since the start of 2023.
Looking ahead, they plan to broaden their outreach efforts and hope to donate to more schools and organizations in need. They also seek to recruit more members and have additional growing locations for its expansion.
"As for the future, we envision further growth and impact. We aspire to expand our donations to Emerald High School, Eden Housing and other potential recipients. We aim to extend our reach to more schools and organizations in Pleasanton, while also striving to recruit additional team members and establish new growing locations," Ganesh said.
"By doing so, we hope to make a significant and lasting difference in our community," he added.