Conversations Aplenty


Once again, it has been a few days since the last post. I hope you are all well and enjoying this glorious summer weather. Here at Haverford, it is a balmy summer day with a crisp chill in the air and a sky dappled with the whitest of clouds.

Throughout this blog, I have made many references to the research portion of my project but have not taken the time to fully explain what exactly I am doing. Today, I think, would be a good time to catch you up.

To the greatest extent, the research portion of my internship is about dialogue. Everyone at Haverford seems interested in creating an agricultural space on campus, from the lowliest of students to the College President himself. What no one knows, however, is the form the farm/garden/patch/orchard will take. In that sense, I say my project is about dialogue because my task is to meet with these various factions and to distill their disparate ideas into one organizational structure.

So, for the past few months, meeting with people is exactly what I have done. Way back in March, I spoke with the College President, Steve Emerson, to hear what he expects from a formal proposal. Later in April, the head of the College’s Facilities Management joined us in a Committee on Environmental Responsibility meeting and approved the idea of moving the garden to another space on campus. And, more recently, I have met with a slew of professors from all disciplines (Chemistry, English, Political Science, etc.), College Staff, and students involved with the Haverford Garden Initiative.

As a result of all of those discussions, we have tentatively agreed on a hierarchical organizational structure in which people have varying levels of responsibility (and are held accountable for those roles). Claudia Kent, the Manager of Grounds, will serve informally as an advisor – that is, as someone who can recommend directions and/or ideas for the garden. From there, two students will be paid garden interns and will be directly responsible for both maintaining the garden and bringing volunteers to help. Last but not least, the members of HGI will break into small garden teams that work as units in the garden.

Potentially most exciting of all, however, were the ideas that came out of yesterday’s meeting with two staff members at the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. After explaining to them the progress I had made, I suggested that we try to design a perennial internship for a student to work in the garden. Their response was overwhelmingly positive. If it succeeded, it would mean turning something like my current project into a designated program to which students apply each year.

Overall, I am quite happy with how the research portion has proceeded and feel lucky to have met with so many interesting (and interested) people on campus. If you would like to hear more details about the proposal, chime in with questions. Otherwise, I promise more garden pictures and updates are on their way.