The Work Toward a Community Garden

community garden image

I have been a member of the Student Government Association board for six semesters and throughout my time here, I have been able to work on many great initiatives and meet a lot of great people. One question has remained in the back of my head from early on in my AOS career: “Why can’t I use the garden behind safety?” One day, after fundamentals class, my friends and I walked by to pick some vegetables and, to our dismay, there stood a sign saying we were not able to pick the vegetables. We were disappointed, but we accepted it and moved on. As time went on, I could not get the garden out of my head. Flash forward to May of 2017, I have graduated my AOS degree and am in my 6th term, first of Bachelors. After a couple times running to The Egg, I was caught up by the beauty of the teaching garden. I thought how cool, a garden right here behind my home in Rosenthal Hall–but am I allowed to use it?

After speaking with my fellow SGA member, Kathleen DiPerna, who was a worker in the garden, she let me know that students are allowed to go check it out, but they do not have access to decide how it grows or really gets in there because it is a class. As sustainability started becoming an important issue in the school as a whole, Kathleen and I thought: “Why not have a garden where the students could go and work and get their hands into the dirt?” We proposed this to our SGA board, and advisor Matt Ivins, and got the ok to go forward and make the proposal to the school administration. As we brought the idea forward, we were tasked to see if students would be interested in this and really committed to making a student garden work and prosper. We developed a survey with the help of Betsy Carroll, Director- Assessment & Institutional Research, and got an amazing response rate from students across all three campuses. Kathleen and I presented the results to the faculty and got fantastic feedback and buy-in from across the school’s administration. After a few more meetings and discussions with the administration, Provost Erickson gave us the go-ahead to use the garden behind safety—a huge victory for all the many members of SGA, faculty, and staff who have helped us along the way. We have been helped greatly by the school’s sustainability committee led by Evin Lederman, Chef Nogales, Professor Mosher, LCS, Facilities, Dean Merget, Student Affairs and a lot of other people have tremendously helped the Student Government get this garden up and running.

The garden will be unveiled at an Earth Day inspired event on Sunday, April 8th. I encourage you all to show up to this event to enjoy some food, check out the garden, and celebrate the start of something very special. My takeaway message for you is this: The garden is for you, the students. It is for you to go in, care for and cultivate; I urge you all to get involved. Our industry is moving more and more to “farm to table,” “nose to tail,” and “farm to fork” dining; these are all great sayings and phrases, but if not practised do not mean anything. I encourage you all as young chefs to go see how your food is grown, how hard it works to get to your plate. I would like to thank especially Kathleen DiPerna and Kole Bailey for putting the hours in to make this dream happen. Whether you are in Culinary or Baking, AOS or Bachelor’s, this garden is for you. My only hope is that you all learn a lot and get your hands dirty. I’ll see you in the garden.

By Raymond Delucci | La Papillote