By Annie Newman, Staff Writer
Even in October, the garden that sits next to the Student Olsen Center is teeming with life. Brilliant flowers bloom, vegetables ripen, and bees take pollen to ready themselves for winter. Students mill about, especially those that are in the “Dig It: Gardening for Change” class hosted by student advisor and teacher Gretchen Legler.
“What we do is we read people who are writing about how we need to change the way we grow food in America and across the world to make it less fossil-fuel dependent– so how we need to change the way we grow food and how we change the way we make food available to people,” Legler explained.
As well as reading and studying methods of change, students also work in the garden and donate the produce to put their lessons into practice. “We’ve worked in the garden, we planted things, we’ve nurtured things, we harvested things, and delivered them to [Saint Joseph’s] Nutrition Center, which is just up the street and is a free place for people to go 24/7 to get nutritious fresh food,” Legler said. St. Joseph’s Nutrition Center is also available to students.
Those that were on campus before the garden arrived may remember the Creative Writing building that stood next to the Student Olsen Center. But how did the garden come to be? “The garden was made possible by a grant from something called the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust,” Legler said. “It’s a Boston-based organization that likes to fund projects that help change the world for the better with an environmental focus. All of the wood here, the topsoil, the seeds, the greenhouse– it all was because of that grant.”
Legler has also detailed the different kinds of vegetables, herbs and flowers being grown in the garden: catnip, gourds, marigolds and more. “All of the work that has been done in this garden has been done by students. All of the building of the beds, the filling the beds with soil, starting all the plants, planting everything, taking care of it over the summer– it’s all been done by students,” Legler noted. Though deer have been nibbling at the growth that has been uncovered by the netting, the garden is considered a great success.
“I want people to know that they can come to the garden anytime and enjoy it,” Legler added. Most of the produce is reserved for food banks such as St. Joseph’s Nutrition Center and soon the Thrifty Beaver, but the garden is a good place to look at the growth and “rejuvenate your soul,” as Legler puts it.
If you are interested in an apprenticeship or work-study around the garden, contact Gretchen Legler at: email@example.com.