Colgate Community Garden Celebrates Success At Open House



Colgate’s Community Vegetable Garden had its first Open House last Thursday, September 23. The event included homemade food, a decoupage of compost bins and a concert featuring the Colgate Thirteen, the Testostertones and the Dischords. It attracted about 200 students, staff and community members to the site of the garden, located on College Street adjacent to Newell Apartment 4.

Two paid interns, junior Rob Jeffrey and senior Stacey Marion, created the garden from the ground up this past summer. Besides the entertainment and food, the Open House served as an opportunity for the interns to guide tours of the product of their summer labor.

“It was a lot of work, a sunup to sundown job for a while,” Jeffrey said.

But the experience turned out to be worthwhile for both interns.

“It was really amazing. We were outside all day and it was very hands on, but we also got experience doing all the planning and logistics. We had the chance to turn our vision for the garden into a physical reality,” Marion said.

“Green Thumbs,” the group that laid the groundwork for the garden to take off, was initially proposed back in 2001 and became an official student group in 2008. As recently as last spring, the garden was still in the conceptual stage.

Co-president of Green Thumbs senior Emily Sabo explained in a March 2010 interview that the group was just “sending out petitions for students to either support the idea or to dedicate some time to the maintenance and promotion of the garden.”

Thanks to support from the Sustainability Council and funding from the 2010 Class Gift, the garden is now fully operational: even selling produce to Sodexo.

“Some of the food [grown in the garden] goes to Frank now,” Sabo said.

There is also a farm stand up against the garden fence.

“It’s kind of a donate-what-you-want thing, and you can take vegetables at any time,” Sabo’s co-president senior Halley Parry said of the farm stand.

Parry is excited that the idea is finally off the ground.

“We used to just sit around and plan, and talk about Madison bounty in general, but now we finally have a garden!” Parry said.

Both the members of the Green Thumbs and the garden interns were happy with the turnout at the Open House and the exposure it provided. They are already planning future events.

“We’re going to have a pumpkin and gourd carving event sometime in October. The pumpkin to gourd ratio is a little heavy [toward] the gourds, so we might have to have a lot of gourd lanterns,” Sabo said.

Although her role with the Community Garden is coming to a close, Stacy Nagle, who served as a garden consultant for Jeffrey and Marion this past summer, was lending more than a hand at the event. She is really excited about the idea of a Colgate garden.

“I don’t understand why it didn’t happen sooner, but I think we’re entering a different generation of students. They are more concerned now with where their food comes from and sustainability, and I think that’s really great,” Nagle said.

The work done this summer on the garden was more than an isolated gesture of environmental awareness.

“We just founded a new sustainable institution at this school,” Jeffrey said. With continued support, this institution has every reason to grow.