It has been a few days since I last posted so I thought I would give you an update of what’s going on at Haverford. Life is pretty hectic this week. Between discussions with faculty members about the proposal and a meeting with the Director of Dining Services to discuss our planned Garden Party (more to come), I have scarcely had a moment to breathe.
That said, yesterday ended up being one of the most delightful days yet this summer. Just as I finished working and was experiencing the post-work drain that plagues all of us Americans, I geared up for another meeting. This one, however, was special because a student from another school had reached out to me. Essentially, a group of students at UPenn just recently received a HUGE, $20,000 grant to grow a campus garden. To sustain the investment, a student associated with the project is making visits to other schools with such gardens to develop a long-term plan. Sound familiar? Needless to say, our discussion was very fruitful.
Since Penn seems to be one step ahead in the process – they have written the proposal and received funding – , my peer’s insights about the organization of their farm were incredibly helpful. She spoke of an interdisciplinary steering board, complete with faculty, undergrads, staff members, and graduate students, that allows the garden to maintain strong ties to the school, its curriculum, and its student body. Without a doubt, some of her ideas will go into our proposal.
Yet, perhaps most exciting of all was what happened after the meeting ended. As the sun was starting to set and the temperature fell to a chillingly refreshing 70 degrees, I visited the garden to pull some weeds. A few minutes later, three other students not associated with HGI swung by and leant a helping hand. Together, we weeded, harvested pea pods, picked lettuce leaves, and scrounged for the last of the spinach. As the sun finally set, we divided up our goods and set off to prepare the crisp produce we had just picked.
Thinking back over the experience, I believe the moment represents the realization of the garden’s purpose: to educate about food and to build community. Four students previously unknown to each other came together over one of the simplest human activities, the gathering and eating of food. Yet, the moment transcends the very physical produce we reaped. As they walked off with a newfound interest in gardening, a sense of relaxation, and some excitement about fresh food, I could not help but marvel at the idea of four strangers bonding over a garden and building a tighter-knit community. What a beautifully picturesque and idyllic idea…come to life.