By Jenn Bell ’11
Where is it that you can see Lafayette administrators, staff, faculty, and students working side by side wearing straw hats and sprinkled with dirt? There’s only one place like it on campus-the Lafayette Organic Garden.
The garden covers two acres on Sullivan Trail just south of the Metzgar Fields Athletic Complex. One acre is a community garden for members of the Lafayette community to tend their own plots. The other section is where students work together spring through fall to grow healthy produce without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers, instead experimenting with sustainable alternatives.
This is the garden’s second year, and it is thriving. There were a total of 42 community garden plots used this year, many with multiple families sharing a plot. People grew lots of new interesting things and worked together to come up with solutions for issues such as drought, organic pest control means, and organic fertilizing. The produce grown by these families is for them to enjoy, with extra donated to the Safe Harbor shelter just down the road from campus.
The student garden this year was a place of learning and experimentation. Many different kinds of organic weed and pest control measures were attempted, such as different kinds of organic mulches, layered “lasagna” gardening, and companion planting. The produce has been very plentiful, and we are planning on it being served in the dining halls this year. Currently, all the produce from the student plot (including tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe, eggplant, peppers, and more) is donated to Safe Harbor.
The campus garden was tended by students throughout the spring, summer, and will continue through the fall. Student workers and volunteers include Emily Clark ’12, Christina DeSalva ’11, Jack Fedak ’13, Rida Haq ’12, Donovan Hayes ’12, Bryan McAtee ’11, Martin Melendro ’11, and Anthony Romanoski ’10.
I’m so glad to be a part of this new kind of Lafayette community. The garden is a place of peace and serenity, something which nicely contradicts the sometimes hectic nature of campus life. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Organic Garden website.
Bell (Purcellville, Va.), a double major in geology and religious studies, received a $5,000 grant from the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) that provided seed money to begin the organic garden project. She also was instrumental in securing a $41,000 state grant last year to purchase commercial size Earth Tubs for the College’s composting project.