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Community garden project proves very productive

By Contributing Writer on October 6, 2010
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(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kiera Crowley ’13)

video iconClose to 200 people gathered at Colgate’s community garden recently for a long-awaited open house.

Homemade foods, including bruschetta, fried zucchini, and baked squash — all made from the garden’s produce — were displayed under bright-red tents. The Sept. 23 open house also featured garden tours, compost-bucket decorating, and performances by several Colgate singing groups.

The half-acre garden on College Street is the result of a collaborative effort that has been in the works since 2001 when Heather Schoen ’02 planted the seeds for Green Thumbs, a student organization focused on promoting local, sustainable agriculture at Colgate. However,
it wasn’t until fall 2008 that Schoen’s idea would begin to sprout.

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According to Green Thumbs president Emily Sabo ’11, a group of outdoor education students were inspired to get the organization running after attending Powershift, a lobbying event in Washington, D.C., focused on using alternative energy on college campuses.

The students pushed to make themselves an official student group, and Sabo and Green Thumbs faculty adviser, Chris Henke, began researching how to turn the garden into a reality.

Their efforts were picked up by Meg Cronin ’10, Teddi Hoffman ’10, Kate Pavelich ’10, and Maria Kryachko ’10, who developed a 44-page garden proposal for an environmental issues class co-taught by sustainability coordinator John Pumilio.

With the support from the Sustainability Council, the site was approved. And when the Class of 2010 Senior Gift Committee donated its entire gift to sustainability, Green Thumbs was given the financial backing to get the garden off the ground.

Last summer, two student interns, Rob Jeffrey ’12 and Stacey Marion ’11, started the garden and have been managing it ever since. Marion and Jeffrey make the farming decisions about the garden, but also rely on input from Green Thumbs’s advisory committee and a hired consultant.

The first seeds to be planted — including squash, eggplant, peppers, radishes, and carrots — were donated by local farms, a community-building aspect envisioned by the organizers.

The produce from the garden is sold to Sodexo, supplier for Colgate’s dining services, and used at the Coop and the Edge dining facilities, as well as for catered events. Additional produce is given to garden volunteers and sold at a vegetable stand, set up at the garden on Friday afternoons.

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