Recently the garden committee has been re-assessing our goals for the garden. In these past few years, the garden has been able to meet the minimal needs of the dining hall, but for the most part has remained a garden for beautification and recreational purposes. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, we are working with a small space (about 50’50), with little room and funding for expansion. We also do not have a strong core of volunteers, nor do we have a supervisor who can harvest things on time. These things are necessary for managing a successful production garden.
This is why this year the garden committee has committed to re-designing the garden, fostering better connections with on and off campus contacts, and trying to expand the garden and push for its visibility on campus. As a production garden, our garden will require extensive planning and volunteering to maintain the crop yields as the primary goal for success. For this reason we are working on improving our organization and record keeping, securing a paid supervisor position and core of volunteers (we are reaching out to postbacs, grad students, staff and faculty now), and getting feedback from the community. Production gardens also base the inventory on what the kitchen needs and when they need it not the other way around. To make this switch, we have identified year-round produce needed by Haffner, and are working with them to make sure we can grow and harvest these produce on time. For a production garden we’ll need to have 3 plantings: one in April, one in May and the third in mid-summer. This is subject to change of course- but it’s a start! Once more, we are re-designing the beds to maximize our production. Previously, we had five circular beds, with a good amount of space in between. We will now have six long triangular beds, as well as beds on the side of the garden for staff use. Once we have assessed our growing ability, we will look for other spots for expansion.
It is my hope that in achieving these goals we will make the garden into more of a community “democratic” space, that is responsive to the needs and desires of its community. Recently I sent out a survey to BMC members, and out of the 60+ responses I received, over 70% of respondees desired a garden which provided food to the dining halls. 48% of respondees desired more work and harvest days, and almost 45% of respondees wanted to see the garden incorporated into educational plans. This year we will make it a priority to achieve all three of these requests.