Garden Project Milestones
In 1967, when Alan Chadwick first started the hillside garden at the University of California at Santa Cruz, that original horticultural endeavor was called “The Student Garden Project.” Eventually the name was shortened to just “The Garden Project,” particularly after Chadwick moved on to other places. The name stuck, and now refers more broadly to all of Alan’s educational activities in the USA, beginning with Santa Cruz and ending with his death at Green Gulch thirteen years later. Certain recent events that significantly intersect with those historic days of the garden, or with the various individuals involved, will continue to be highlighted here as they come to our attention.
A Salute to Paul Lee on his 90th Birthday
On September 20, 2021, Paul Lee celebrated his 90th Birthday. For those who do not know him, Paul was the primary impresario working behind the scenes to facilitate the Garden Project at UC Santa Cruz.
In the spring of 1966 Donald Nicholl, a visiting history professor from England, spoke about “A Sense of Place,” a theme derived from the elderly Welsh poet, David Jones, who was 70 at the time. Professor Nicholl extolled the cultivation of gardens as a fundamental way of creating an essential sense of place in our increasingly chaotic world. Paul Lee, who was present at this talk, was deeply affected by that thought. Creating such an uplifting and unifying sense of place could counteract the disturbing effects of worldwide confusion and the local disruption of campus construction that was reshaping the redwood forest into roads, buildings, and parking lots. The Regents of the University of California had ordained the Santa Cruz campus to ultimately accommodate 27,500 students, and Paul shuddered at the thought of such a major institutional impact on the landscape.
When the next school year commenced after Donald Nicholl’s talk, Paul was inspired to explore the possibility of creating such a student garden on the Santa Cruz campus. He pitched the idea to the University Chancellor, Dean McHenry, and received a surprisingly warm response. The first question was, “Where should the garden be located?” Paul took the initiative and organized a walkabout through the campus searching for a suitable site, with Dean McHenry actively participating.
In that same time frame, a German countess, Freya von Moltke, was residing at the University as the companion to Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a visiting professor who had been the mentor of Page Smith, then provost of Cowell College. Freya heard about Paul’s idea for a garden and suggested that her friend, Alan Chadwick, would be the ideal person to lead such an effort. Alan, she said, was currently in route to San Francisco on a ship from New Zealand, and would be visiting her in Santa Cruz soon thereafter.
Photo: Paul Lee carrying his daughter, Jessica, in February 1967, on the day that he, chancellor Dean McHenry, and forty or fifty others walked the campus in search of a suitable garden site.
When Alan arrived, Freya enthusiastically presented the proposed concept of a campus garden to him and urged him to take it on. He was reluctant to do so because of a keen mistrust of bureaucracies, especially of an academic kind. But Freya impressed upon him the vital need for the youth of the world to discover the wisdom of nature and gardening as a healing force. Gradually Alan relented and agreed to meet with Paul Lee to discuss the details. That auspicious meeting between Paul and Alan took place at the Cowell College fountain. Paul described his idea for a student garden, but only in simple general terms.
"I wasn’t interested in gardening; as a typical academic, I was interested in the idea of gardening. I thought it would be a good project for the students on the campus of a university that had been a great ranch landscape—the Cowell Ranch—with vistas looking out from the redwood groves to Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The students could do the work. I would watch and oversee and enjoy the asters and the poppies when they bloomed."
Alan, however, as an accomplished master of gardening on a grand scale, immediately envisioned the potential in light of his enormous experience in celebrated settings like the British Admiralty Gardens of South Africa. His acute artistic imagination began to fully picture the compelling possibilities. He had the gift of viewing any landscape and envisioning it transformed into a bountiful garden. Paul asked Alan if he would lead the effort. Alan, inspired by the prospect, declared that yes he would be willing to do so. Paul, in his infinite optimism, assumed that the details would work themselves out as the project got going. Alan was of a similar frame of mind. His life experience confirmed that whenever a bold idea aligns with destiny, then the universe will furnish whatsoever is essential for its fulfillment.
At first, Paul was not fully aware that once Alan made a commitment, he would move heaven and earth to achieve his goals. The next day Alan bought a garden spade, made a quick survey of potential garden sites near Cowell College, and began work on one that had the highest horticultural potential, optimal setting and prominent visibility. Paul had a lot of explaining to do, since the campus architect was not pleased by the unauthorized decision made outside of official channels. Paul’s philosophy was, “anarchists don't ask permission.” An alternative formulation of this principle is sometimes heard: It’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission and risk denial.
Eventually the campus architect was placated, allowances were made, and the Garden Project was born.
Alan commenced to clear away poison oak and brush, layout paths, and dig the first garden beds. Paul began earnestly to speak about the new project in his philosophy classes, ultimately recruiting the first students to participate in the arduous groundwork. John Powell, Phil Amour, and Michael Stusser were among the early apprentices, but others soon followed. Stephen Decater, Alan’s most steadfast apprentice over many years, first heard about the Garden Project in one of Paul Lee’s classes.
In the early spontaneity of creating the garden, neither Paul nor Alan had given thought to the practical aspects of Alan’s basic necessities. Soon, however, Alan began to ask where he should live while working on the garden, and how his basic living expenses would be provided? Paul scrambled, and finally got authorization for Alan to occupy a faculty apartment at Cowell College, and secured a small stipend to cover his expenses. Whenever issues arose (and there were many) Paul jumped into the breach to solve each problem. Alan had many of the classic attributes of the temperamental artist, and he expected his patron (in this case, the University) to meet his reasonable demands for tools, seeds, irrigation water, deer fencing, a modest greenhouse, etc. Each of these expenses sent the administrators into a conundrum, since no money had been budgeted for the new garden project.
Since Paul had been the one to actually recruit Alan, Alan expected that it was Paul’s responsibility to advocate for the needs of the Garden Project to the University administration. Thus Paul was constantly called upon to work his magic. When there were delays or problems, Alan likewise vented his frustrations on Paul. It was a heroic role that Paul Lee played in the early days of a project that would eventually transform agriculture in California and the rest of the United States.
Before Chadwick, organic gardening was talked about and practiced in limited circles, but its implementation was primitive. Chadwick was the first to show that, practiced rightly, organic gardening and farming could produce better, more beautiful, more nutritious, and more pest-resistant vegetables than conventional chemical-based agriculture. Science and agronomy professors both at Santa Cruz and at UC Davis, the academic hub of the agrochemical industry, were outraged that an organic garden had been established at the UCSC campus. Serious efforts were made to close down the project, and there again, Paul Lee was on the front lines to defend it. Paul’s efforts in establishing Chadwick and the organic gardening project at UCSC were no doubt a significant factor in his subsequent denial of tenure at the University. Agricultural science at the University of California had been securely in the pockets of the agricultural chemical interests for many years. Paul Lee was rocking the boat and so had to be banished.
During his time at UCSC, Paul occasionally took an active role in the garden. In one class project, Paul and his students built a stone retaining wall with terraces at the lower part of the garden where it faces Stevenson College. The Building and Grounds Department at the University complained that Paul’s project had been done without proper engineering design, but that wall has stood for over fifty years without any problems, and it still stands today.
Another time that Paul came to the rescue was when Alan had been deprived of his position and salary at UCSC, largely as a puntative reaction to his emphasis on organic methods. Alan had nowhere to go, and so began to sleep on the floor of the garden Chalet. Out of his own pocket, Paul arranged to have a bathroom added to that building so that the situation would be somewhat more tolerable for Alan.
When the relationship with the University finally collapsed, Paul Lee was instrumental in finding Alan another place to continue his personal crusade on behalf of an ecologically sustainable agriculture. The San Francisco Zen Center had recently acquired 70 acres in nearby Marin County, and through his friendship with its leader, Richard Baker, Paul was able to secure a place for Chadwick and his apprentices to continue their work.
Paul’s many contributions have been overlooked in the general history of the Garden and Farm in publications by the UC Santa Cruz Administration, but they have not been forgotten. Many people over the years helped advance Chadwick’s vision for an ecological agriculture, and Alan could not have achieved his vision without their help. But the contributions of Paul Lee are among the foremost and deserve to be acknowledged by the larger community. On this occasion of his 90th birthday, we offer our immense gratitude for all that he did to help Alan Chadwick in his efforts to firmly establish organic farming methods in the American cultural landscape.
In Memoriam: Gregory Hudson
Sadly, we must report the death of Gregory Hudson, who was one of Alan Chadwick’s principal lieutenants during the Santa Cruz years in the heydays of the campus Garden Project. Greg also worked closely with those of us at the Saratoga Garden for six months from November 1972 into 1973, and also rejoined Chadwick in the early months of the Covelo project, before following his life path of becoming a Waldorf teacher. He was a thoughtful, sensitive and artistic soul who walked humbly on the earth and helped many people to achieve their most worthwhile aims in life.
A memorial tribute, posted by his family and friends, is reprinted here:
Gregory was born in Los Angeles on October 18, 1947. His childhood and youth were filled with the trials and inspirations of a big family and a vibrant life in southern California. When he graduated from high school and approached adulthood, he headed to Santa Cruz.
In May of 1969, during his junior year of college, Gregory joined the garden project at the University of California at Santa Cruz led by Alan Chadwick. Soon after graduation, Chadwick asked him to join the staff and become one of the assistant gardeners. Their work in food systems and growing methods heavily inspired biodynamics and organics in the west, influenced Alice Waters and California cuisine, and wine makers Fetzer and Frey.
It turns out that the art of gardening was only a fraction of the wisdom and inspiration Alan Chadwick imparted; his exuberance for the world and its mysteries was contagious. For years, Gregory watched and learned from a man who was a Shakespearean actor, master gardener, chef, and philosopher.
Gregory left his years with Alan Chadwick and became a master Waldorf teacher, extraordinary chef, intrepid gardener, charismatic actor, fabulous dancer, passionate musician, dapper dresser, brother, uncle, husband, father, and friend.
Gregory often said that he thought of Mr. Chadwick every day.
He worked with Chadwick at UCSC, Saratoga, and Covelo and admired each of them, but his love for the garden at UCSC remained the strongest. Knowing this, we are grateful to come together to create a memorial that honors Gregory at the Chadwick Garden on the UC Santa Cruz campus. A row of rare and beautiful heirloom roses and a row of heirloom apples will be planted for Greg and commemorated with a bronze plaque honoring him as a founding apprentice, assistant to Alan Chadwick, and all that he became to us in the years that followed.
The memorial to honor Greg’s memory was held September 18, 2021, on the Chalet deck at the Alan Chadwick Garden at UCSC. Altogether 35 people attended, most in person but with a few viewing remotely. Mardi Sicular and Greg Haynes, who were colleagues of Greg’s from the Garden Project days, came to pay tribute to the profound life experiences that were cultivated at that venerable site, while many of the others were connected to Greg through his work of 30 years as a Waldorf teacher. Many of us like Greg were first introduced to the teachings of Rudolf Steiner by Alan Chadwick at Santa Cruz and inspired by Francis Edmunds, founder of Emerson College in England, during his 1971 visit to Chadwick’s garden.
Former students of Greg spoke appreciatively about the thoughtful commitment that exemplified his teaching. Many parents of his students confirmed these sentiments, gratefully relating kindhearted examples of his astute and loving attention to their children. Colleagues on the teaching staff of the Davis Waldorf School, where Greg spent most of his teaching career, described his many outstanding contributions to the development of the school. It was abundantly apparent that Greg was a dearly loved member of his community. May he rest in peace.
The black and white photo at the top of this page was taken by Eric Thiermann in 1967 during the expedition organized by Paul Lee to find a suitable garden site at UCSC. The two color photos here were taken by Michael Stusser. They are still-frames from his 1971 film, Garden. In this photo, Greg Hudson stands on the left, with Paul Lee standing on the right.
Contributed by Greg Haynes, October 2021