Season of Giving: Meet garden volunteer Thadee LaGrisola
During this “Season of Giving,” we wanted to highlight matadors who regularly donate their time and energy to efforts and causes close to their hearts, on and off campus. These students added regular volunteer work to the daily juggling of classes, homework, jobs and family time. We wanted to introduce you to a few of these students and ask them to share more about what they give and what they get in return.
Meet Thadee LaGrissola, a microbiology major, and CSUN Sustainability Garden employee and volunteer
When Thady LaGrisola, 21, isn’t in class, he’s probably in the Sustainability Garden. The half-acre site is located on the northeast side of campus adjacent to the softball and baseball fields. The fenced-in garden plot is on one side of a large path and fruit trees grow on the other side — the bounty of which goes to the CSUN Food Pantry, providing fresh food to students, faculty and staff in need. The garden is managed by the Sustainability Center to provide healthy food as well as learning opportunities.
On a recent fall day, LaGrisola took us around the weedy garden beds. One of the plants he planted contains cabbage, and in the middle are garlic plants – and he explains that garlic acts as a natural insect deterrent. LaGrisola said he began volunteering at the park in 2021.
“I get to do something I love to do, which is growing food,” he explained.
It’s hard work, but he said it’s also a great place to relax. “It’s nice, especially in the hot summer, under the walnut tree, where the temperature is 20 degrees cooler. You can hear the wind and it’s a nice place to sit and meditate.
LaGrisola said he now works as a “garden assistant,” around the clock, five hours a week, but continues to put in more hours to ensure necessary tasks are completed. His shifts always begin with a walk around the garden beds.
“I look at anything that seems out of the ordinary, like a fallen branch that needs to be cleared from a storm. “Then I move on to the task of the day,” which he explained could be anything from weeding to planting. From there, he moves on to personal projects. Or experimental, such as creating new plants, which could include rare tomatoes or growing seeds from the fruit he just ate.
Jesse Walthal is a California Climate Action Fellow and LaGrisola’s supervisor at the park. Walthal said LaGrisola’s experience was invaluable.
“He’s a rookie,” Walthal said. “He discovers things out of curiosity and out of interest and concern for the place. There’s a dedication and it’s really nice to have him on the team.”
Lagrisola is studying microbiology and wants to become a farmer. His dream is to have a farm in Ventura with organic and sustainable farming practices.
“I just want to have good quality food, high quality food as the first priority on the agenda,” he said.
Until then, La Grisola will continue to till the soil in the Sustainability Garden.
“I love the garden,” he said. “And everyone (who works there) has the same goal of trying to not only make the campus better, but also improve the environment and direct it more sustainably.”
Feeling inspired by Lagrisolaa job ? Find out how you can get involved (no experience required required!) and return the favor.