The official Student News Site of Dublin High School.

The Dublin Shield

The official Student News Site of Dublin High School.

The Dublin Shield

The official Student News Site of Dublin High School.

The Dublin Shield

Gardeners of the Galaxy: Local Advocates Addressing Food Insecurity

Home-grown+microgreens+that+are+ready+to+be+donated+to+those+in+need.+
Preston Chiu
Home-grown microgreens that are ready to be donated to those in need.

From donating produce for school lunches, to supplying food pantries and homeless shelters with nutritious meals, Gardeners of the Galaxy (GOTG) actively advocates for and promotes healthy eating habits for all. Their mission: fight against food insecurity around the Bay Area and beyond. By home growing microgreens and delivering them to places in need, GOTG is able to benefit many people who rely on them as a source of nutrition. Since 2021, this not-for-profit organization has donated over 400 trays of microgreens, helping feed over 8,500 hungry people.

Though the organization was originally started in 2019 by current Dublin High senior, Arjun Karur-Parekh, the problem of food insecurity was only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. In the height of quarantine, along with his parents, Veena Devarakonda and Amit Parekh, acting as adult supervisors, Arjun continued to offer his services to schools and pantries, as well as collaborate with local organizations who offered to help streamline his deliveries. Such help included Frank Castro, the Director of Child Nutrition at Dublin Unified School District, Brenda Kusler, Executive Director at Fertile Groundworks, Bill Ziegler, Chef and Kitchen Manager at Culinary Angels, and Michael Elon, founder of the Lucky Garden Dublin Hydroponics. Having obtained government grants (every year from 2019) to fund this endeavor, Arjun was now well-equipped to begin providing for the people in his community. Eventually, in 2022, GOTG was able to expand its membership, with the addition of vice-president Hari Ganesh, secretary Preston Chiu, and treasurer Nico Singh.

Growing microgreens is a very sustainable and efficient way of tackling malnourishment in the community. Since they only require about 7-10 days of germination, it can be immediately harvested and packaged to be delivered. Their organization delivers to schools and pantries every week, with each delivery containing about 5-10 pounds of microgreens each.

Through their continued donation efforts and contributions to their community, Gardeners of the Galaxy was able to gain the attention of several news outlets and make its name known via news articles. Some notable sources include The Independent News, Pleasanton Weekly, Patch News, and Livermore Vine.

As the original board members are currently seniors, they are beginning to make the transition from high school to the collegiate phase of their lives. Responsibilities are now being passed to a new generation who will carry on the legacy of Gardeners of the Galaxy. The new board consists of freshmen, who are eager to do their part in fighting against food insecurity and providing nutritious meals to those who need it. The presidency position will be headed by Arjun’s brother, Neel Karur-Parekh, with Daniel Wu being the new vice-president, Dylan Chiu being the new secretary, Riddhish Saravanan being the new treasurer, and Hardik Pampati taking up the new position of Market Organizer. As they get accumulated to their new positions, the original board will act as consultants and guide them along the way. Gardeners of the Galaxy also has hopes of expanding their operations by giving presentations to elementary and middle schools to educate young minds about the importance of eating healthy and how they can contribute to our cause. 

Thanks to the hard work put in by the organization, the Dublin Unified School District has awarded them a certificate of recognition for their dedicated service. Furthermore, the president, Arjun Karur-Parekh, has recently been awarded at the DreamMakers and RiskTakers Ceremony for raising awareness about the environment through his microgreen initiative.

Sometime in the near future, there is also action being taken to educate local residents of Dublin about microgreens and the work that Gardeners of the Galaxy is putting in to serve their community. This project, being spearheaded by Arjun Karur-Parekh, Preston Chiu, and Hardik Pampati, will take place at the Dublin Farmers’ Market in April, 2024. Additionally, Gardeners of the Galaxy is collaborating with Las Positas College to hold a conference explaining what their organization does, and how climate change is increasing nutritional insecurity, as higher global temperatures make growing produce more difficult. At this conference, we will be delivering microgreens to them for free, with each package being labeled with a QR code, allowing people to visit the GOTG website to learn more information.

Gardeners of the Galaxy has helped improve the nutrition of people around our city, and are aiming to help more people in the future. If you are interested, you can reach out to their organization to see how you can help.