Tufts Student Garden: a work in progress.
March 8, 2010
I think this is the longest time in between posts yet, but I have a great reason. I have been busy busy busy working on establishing a garden at Tufts. The whole thing started at the beginning of the semester when I emailed Yosefa Ehrlich, whom I had never met. We quickly became good friends and have been working as a solid team since. We sent out a survey and discovered that 67 people (out of 100) would like to volunteer on a garden. Now that’s what I call student interest.
Then we set out meeting with various people: the head of the Environmental Studies department, the nutritionist at Dining Services, the ground’s manager, people at Tufts Institute for the Environment, Tufts Office of Sustainability, everyone voiced their support, contributing to the project in the ways that they could.
The biggest concern among all people was that I am a junior and Yosefa is a senior, what will happen to the garden once we are gone? Here’s what we came up with:
The Experimental College is a department at Tufts designed so that anyone can submit a course curriculum to teach themselves, about whatever subject they want. Subject: Urban Agriculture, a component of which will be maintaining the garden. Teacher: ?. So we sent emails out to everyone that we thought could help find someone to teach this course. Today we are meeting with 5 graduate students in the Urban Environmental Planning and Agriculture Food and Environment departments at Tufts Friedman School. A solution to the summer problem (that no one is around) was offered by George Ellmore, the head of the Environmental Studies Department, who agreed to design an internship around the project. Everything is coming together.
The current plan: throw a couple of 4×6 raised beds on top of the Tisch Library roof, where a current graduate student in biology is working on a green roof project (which spells out TUFTS, pictured above). Grow things that like it hot: peppers, tomatoes, etc. and lots of herbs for sale to Dining Services. We can sell our veggies at the weekly farmers market that will take place at Tufts in the fall.
All of this is very exciting, but also a little overwhelming. Afterall, we have never gardened before. A really nice man I met at the NOFA conference offered to give us a jump-start. We headed over to his house in Newton yesterday morning and he explained everything: how to build raised beds, what soil mixture to use (in fact he sent us home with some vermiculite and perlite), the importance of drip irrigation, he even asked if he could come and check out the space on the library roof, commenting that he had a roof-top garden in Brooklyn. Then he took us to his friend’s place which is a serious operation. Raised beds covered with recycled windows (what they call a cold frame) bursting with kale, 4 huge compost piles, the dark damp place that will hold logs inoculated with mushroom spores, and grow lights under which sit teeny tiny eggplant and onion seedlings. These men were incredibly nice and full of information learned from years of experience and great books, the names of which they passed along. It is so nice to know we have close allies that really want us to succeed, and that have the knowledge to help us.
More posts as the project goes on, wish us luck in making the ExCollege application deadline this Friday.