Student Garden Takes Root
Andrew Bostick '12 first began thinking about food and politics in high school, when he read Michael Pollen's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. Bostick's interest in the subject deepened at Haverford, thanks to an internship funded by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship that sent him to southern France to study organic farming practices. Over eight weeks in the summer of 2009, the internship gave him the chance to live and work on French farms and consider environmentalism through an agricultural lens.
That experience made him want to find a way to explore those ideas on campus. So Bostick teamed up with Peter Block '11 and Fay Strongin '10, who had also completed CPGC-funded agricultural internships, to create the Haverford Garden Initiative (HGI). HGI broke ground on its first initiative in the spring: a campus vegetable garden meant to provide space for sustainable food production and education.
The vegetable garden is located next to the Haverford College Apartments, in a spot where EHAUS, a student co-op that tries to live sustainably, gardened in the past. HGI doubled the size of the old EHAUS plot and added many new crops, including potatoes, onions, peas, spinach, peppers, radishes, tomatoes, green beans, three types of lettuce, beets, cucumbers and herbs.“It turns out that even a small plot of land, when nurtured well, can produce a lot of food,” says Bostick.
Thanks to another CPGC internship, Bostick was able to spend the summer maintaining the garden with a group of HGI-affiliated students living on campus. He also met with professors, students and staff members, researched other college garden programs, and wrote a proposal for making the garden a permanent fixture at Haverford.
“Interest in food and food politics has exploded over the past few years,” says Bostick.“Whether motivated by the threat of global warming, by the possibility of carcinogens in the food supply, or by the ethical treatment of animals, people have started thinking about food a lot.”
HGI's major community-outreach event of the summer was a garden party open to all students on campus. With funding from Haverford's Committee for Environmental Responsibility and help from Dining Center Director John Francone, the event offered a buffet of fresh-from-the-garden salads and grilled vegetables, along with ribs and turkey sausage, as well as garden tours and a raffle of newly harvested vegetables.
President Steve Emerson accepted Bostick's garden proposal in September and Students' Council gave HGI funding to buy tools, seeds and materials to build raised beds. HGI will also be expanding to use land behind Cadbury House for larger crops like cantaloupe, pumpkins and corn. Also being considered for the future is a space to plant fruit trees.“We are trying to establish as many places on campus as possible to produce food,” says Bostick.
Haverford Grounds Manager Claudia Kent will serve as an informal adviser to HGI, offering ideas and directions for the garden, and two paid positions have been created for student co-heads, who will be responsible for maintaining the garden and recruiting volunteers to help. The members of HGI will break into small garden teams, and all students will have access to the produce.
A standing CPGC internship is in the works that will provide funding for a different student to work in the garden each summer and conduct a related academic research project. There is also a Haverford Garden Wiki, which will serve as a teaching tool to prepare novice gardeners for their time in the garden. With this organizational structure and HGI's successful recruitment of around 40 underclassmen this fall, the future of the student garden looks promising.
Bostick believes the garden has become as much about the people involved as it is about the food.“Unlike the highly individualized work we do in school, the garden has taught us to function well as a team, planting seedlings, harvesting produce and even painting signs,” he says.“The garden truly seems to be fulfilling its role as the space where people can think creatively and act decisively about food and its importance.”
â€”Heather Harden '11