This year, the Sustainability Office hired two summer interns this year to relocate Colgate’s Community Garden, plant and gather produce and host volunteer events. The summer interns, juniors Quincy Pierce and Alex Schaff, spent the majority of their time building the new half-acre garden from tilled dirt.
The Sustainability Office decided to move the garden to its current location because it used to flood annually near the Newell apartments. The new garden is located on Route 12B, just past the townhouses.
Both summer interns worked with Colgate Garden Consultant Beth Roy, Academic Advisor for Green Thumbs Chris Henke and director of Sustainability John Pumilio to develop a blueprint for the new garden. The interns also transported the fence from the old garden location to both exclude deer and to better understand the spatial dimensions.
“There was a lot of piecing together step-by-step, but it turned out beautifully,” Pierce said.
The new garden utilizes a greenhouse from Snyder’s Nursery, which is what used to be at the location.
“When you go through the greenhouse, there are rows of vegetables like onions, cabbage, cauliflower, two hundred tomato plants, cucumbers, leaks, melons, beans, pumpkins, squash, zucchini and blackberry plants,” Pierce said.
The interns also built an herb garden and a flowerbed that contains sunflowers,
perennials and some annuals.
During the summer, Pierce and Schaff encouraged students to attend weekly volunteer hours to learn about gardening, help pick some of the produce and meet other interested students.
They also organized weekly farm stands on the porch at 104 Broad Street where they sold vegetables as well as homemade treats like chocolate chip zucchini bread. However, the interns donated the majority of the produce to the Hamilton Food Cupboard. Pierce explained that the purpose of the garden is not to necessarily make a profit but rather to educate and promote a certain style of living.
“[The mission of the garden] is to promote sustainable living on campus and in the community—to help people learn organic gardening methods and to have a space for the community to come and do that,” Pierce said.
The summer interns also began building an educational space in the garden where they hope to give lessons about harvesting and sustainable living to students and community members.
During the year, the fall interns will sell the garden’s produce in the COOP, but students are encouraged to attend volunteer hours to get hands-on experience and an opportunity to tour the garden. Additionally, students and community members can rent out space in the community garden area if they do not have available space at home.
The fall interns plan to first pick the rest of the produce then sell or donate it. Afterwards, students will take precautions, such as draining the hoses to prevent freezing. As Pierce looks forward to continuing her summer internship into the fall with sophomore Glenna Thomas, she plans to put the garden to bed to prepare for the cold, winter months.
Both interns are excited to share their positive experiences with other Colgate students, as they found that gardening allowed them to explore a different side of themselves.
“My internship was an amazing, challenging experience,” Quincy said. “I learned a lot about gardening, but also about communications, time management and a bunch of other skills besides organic farming methods. It changed my perspective on what I wanted from a future career and widened my views about local food issues.”
Schaff also found the work to be rewarding. “Working out in the sun and the rain, I learned what I could physically and mentally accomplish,” Schaff said.
“As much as the veggies grew in the conditions of the garden, I think I did too. Farming is the perfect intersection of academics and athletics and I hope to bring more awareness to that during the semester ahead.”
Schaff hopes that Colgate students will take advantage of this unique resource on campus.
“The garden is an oasis on campus,” Schaff said. “It’s a place for meditation, growth and education. Gardening is one of the most useful skills and everyone can learn. I did not have a lot of background in gardening, but just being out in the sun and working in the soil, it came to me. Farming is an innate ability, everybody can learn.”