These dressers were found in the facilities dumpster. The one above will serve as a mini green house for lettuce and other low growing plants come winter.
Experimenting with various potted vegetables including carrots, broccoli, and peppers.
Letting lettuce go to seed.
The arugula is also going to seed. And seeding mustard leaf is pictured below.
I placed the female spinach plants in bags where the seeds will dry out and then fall into the bag.
Free for the picking, this community garden will produce
tomatoes now till early august
cabbage in a couple weeks
peppers in august
and some corn, mustard leaves, herbs,
as well as squash and pumpkins come fall
The farm is largely maintained by Carousel Connections, a camp living in apartment 22 for most of the summer. This is their website: www.carouselconnections.com/
I applied an insecticide made of hot pepper, natural soap, garlic, lemon peel, and water to a variety of plants that were being damaged by aphids and other pests. However, a week later, there is no difference between the control and treatment group. I think the problem is that the aphids need to be sprayed directly, and when I sprayed the plants, there may not have actually been any bugs on them at the time. Going forward, if I spot a colony of aphids, I will be sure to attack.
The other day, Stu Hean and I traveled to Philabundance, the region’s largest food bank. We dropped off about four pounds of broccoli and cauliflower leaves (a one-ounce serving provides 90 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement according to oprah.com). The remaining broccoli and cauliflower plants in the garden will be used for their vegetable rather than their leaf.
Philabundance collects food through individuals, grocery stores (who can give away food that is about to expire even though it is safe to eat), and gleaning (which is taking the leftover crops from farms after the farmer is done harvesting). In all, Philabundance feeds over 60,000 people per year!.
A couple weeks ago I had a meeting with Bernie Chung-Templeton (Bi-Co Director of Dining Services), Anthony Condo (Associate Director of Dining Services), and Dan McCorkle (Production Manager) to discuss the Dining Center buying food from the garden. It was agreed upon that the DC would buy food from the garden year round at low prices. Shortly afterwards, Richard Wynn (Vice President for Finance) explained that the DC can not accept uninsured food. So, unless the Garden Club decides to buy insurance, the DC will not be purchasing from the garden. On the plus side, this means more food for the pantries.
Radishes have all been harvested now.
Three varieties of perennial mint grew back on their own.
Enjoy our delicious lettuce which has a few more weeks left.
Spinach has been doing well, but big leaves are being bitten by bugs.
Kale will grow bigger, but is ready for harvest if your hungry.
Arugula was our strongest growing crop outside of mint. Careful of its strong taste now that it has begun flowering.
Last Thursday I delivered a few mixed bags of kale, lettuce, spinach, chard, mint, and radishes to the local food pantries.
The Bryn Mawr pantry, aka the Ada Mutch Community Resource Center, is located near the hospital and library. They are open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-12 and 2-4. Here is their facebook link: www.facebook.com/AdaMutchCommunityResourceCenter. This pantry is only for people with personal incomes under $16.5 k
The Ardmore pantry, aka the St Mary’s Episcopal Church, is located at 36 Ardmore Ave also next to the library and about a five minute walk from the garden! The food pantry is located inside the Parish House and operates on Mondays from 9:30-11:30 (I’ll be heading over for a second time right after this post) and Thursdays from 6-8 pm. The only requirement to get food from here is that one must live in Lower Merion County. The pantry used to accept everyone until too many people from Philadelphia came over and the pantry ran out of food rather quickly. More info on this pantry here: www.stmarysardmore.org/content.cfm?id=330
It has been almost a month since my last post. The garden is going bonkers. For the most part, I’ve been interacting with crops that demand the harvesting of all of their yield all at once. Such as sweet red onions, leeks, garlic scapes and garlic. The garden has progressed in to the hottest part of the summer, the time of the season when growth and production are most prolific. I am now able to harvest summer squash, zucchini, cucumber, eggplant, basil, mint, rosemary and several varieties of pepper on a daily basis. Tomato, okra, beans (bush and pole), and watermelon should start mass producing soon which will render the garden completely capable of supplying a balanced and filling meal for many people.
There have been some troubling developments as well. Nearly all of the strawberry plants that I transplanted contracted a mysterious disease and died. Several of the zucchini plants have contracted mildew, and a few cucumber plants are suffering from bacteria wilt. With the exception of the strawberries, these maladies haven’t infected entire crops, and I’ve read that mildew and wilt can be solved by watering earlier in the morning.
With the exception of driving an occasional plant support and adding new ladder layers for climbing plants to reach for, my work in the garden is still limited to watering (twice daily), and weeding. To fulfill the aspect of my internship that requires an academic project, I have been working to create a basic gardening handbook for future CPGC Haverford Garden interns, tentatively titled the Haverford Garden Almanac, which will hopefully decrease the slope of the learning curve that comes with cultivating a garden for the first time.
I’ve done some thinking about how the community could be encouraged to interact with, or at least care for the garden. Community supported agriculture is made possible by likeminded people who come together to pursue a common goal, and out of their efforts, a garden, a farm or a farmers market is generated, making their vision more accessible to a larger community. Historically, the garden’s produce has been intended to reach only those who work in the garden. I wasn’t aware of this precedent when I started the internship, and throughout the summer I have been harvesting produce for the entire community, instead of reserving it for only those who help. Consequently, I haven’t received much help, and frankly I’m not sure if it’s needed. The HGI internship is loosely structured, but on a basic level, the summer intern is being paid to maintain a garden intended to benefit the community.
Throughout the summer I have been writing e-mails to summer residents on campus, providing notice of when certain crops have been harvested and are ready for consumption. Some of my friends working in labs this summer complain about feeling unproductive, contributing to a sense that their work is fairly meaningless. When I invite them to come work in the garden, they tell me they would rather not do my job for me. They have a point, gardening or farming is a job that requires specialized knowledge, just like any trade. So why demand that anyone who benefits from the fruits of my labor contribute to the production process? Electricians don’t ask us to route wiring so that we may use the lights in our house, they do it for us in exchange for compensation for applying their specialized knowledge.
Gardening is different from other trades though, in that there is a certain aesthetic to producing your own food, and a political glorification that accompanies independence from commercial farming. So that even if produce doesn’t generate profit, it may still generate personal satisfaction. I believe this is why some are willing to exert themselves in efforts that are ultimately less efficient than going to the store and returning home with a huge amount of produce, because gardening can be satisfying.
Community-supported agriculture serves a function similar to that of the current garden. Small local farmers generate produce, using ethical methods of cultivation, made more feasible by the scale of their operation. Produce generated is transported to appointed locations where subscribers to the farm pick up their share. This method of agriculture is currently predominantly accessible only to the people who can afford it. This is unfortunate but not unfixable, if more farmers were incentivized to practice this method of agriculture then conceivably, healthier, more ethically produced food would become more affordable. A key difference between the current garden and a CSA farm is size. Our pick-up stand is a straw-bale, and if the food produced were evenly distributed to the HCA population, we would be discussing how to create fractions of peppers and onions. My point is that while the garden does serve the community, there is much more serving to be done.
The garden serves as somewhat of a rallying point for supporters of local agriculture and environmentalism generally. When the raised beds were first established, Andrew Bostick generated interest among the summer community by holding events and hosting volunteer days, which are enormously productive in the short run. During the year the garden is maintained by the heads of the Haverford Garden Initiative, Siena Mann and Peter Kissin, who have done a great job getting people involved in garden work through similar methods. During the summer maintaining the garden falls to the garden intern selected by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. I think having an overseer who looks out for the wellbeing of the garden is necessary, but if the job of that overseer also includes generating community support, I don’t believe that a single person can generate enough interest or commitment to the garden space through singular events that have a tangible beginning and end, such as volunteer days. I would be interested to see how campus environmentalists would interact with the garden if it were transformed in to private plots instead of one large public plot. The current garden space could be split in to approximately 25 plots. The intention would be to give garden members the opportunity to develop gardening knowledge in a way that is not afforded by contained volunteer events. Ideally, this would foster multiple personal investments in the garden that would effectively form a community of individual supporters. This idea is born of some informal examples, namely Jake Hazen’s (2014) garlic plot which I harvested nearly two weeks ago, who has now agreed to contribute to the work in progress gardener’s handbook.
I have a peeve for things that seemingly don’t have a purpose. Intro to Fitness, nihilism and dog sweaters really get my blood boiling, but it is somewhat defeating to feel like the garden doesn’t serve a real purpose here at Haverford. We are so lucky to have plenary, an opportunity to direct the institution. If a community of supporters of local agriculture existed here I imagine things would develop quickly. Maybe we could even convince Facilities Management to take over the operation of a farm, in the meadow by Lower Featherbed.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading so far.
As of today, June 18th, I feel like I’m finally living up to Phil Drexler’s (2014) frequent assertion that I don’t have a real job. Since my last post, I have been working to fill all of the available space in the garden, with seedlings both purchased and home grown. The raised beds now boast a production capacity that I’m proud of. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, eggplant, tomatoes, herbs, peppers and strawberries constitute much of the new space, while cucumbers, squash (winter and summer), pumpkins, zucchini, garlic, okra, beans, onions, chard and kale are taking up most of the original beds.
I recently handed Claudia $600 in receipts from Home Depot and Orner’s Garden Center (unfortunately they have no official website), that have accumulated through the purchase of seedlings, trellis materials, straw, sprinklers and a new hose. I felt slightly sheepish when I told Claudia how much I have spent. When I say $600 without justification, I feel as though I went overboard. Gardening can be done with the money it takes to buy seeds, a good hoe and cultivator, and the utilities cost that accompanies all the water the plants need. However, when I look at the straw that carpets the new beds, keeping the quickly growing basil hydrated, and the twenty foot arcs of water spewing out of the garden’s three new sprinklers, I feel like I’ve put CER’s money in to a worthy investment.
But sometimes I think I take myself too seriously. There was a party on HCA green last weekend, which took place fairly close to the garden. I was happy that the garden was being used as a gathering space for the community that is forming here among HCA summer residents. I was sad to see in the morning however, that some party-goers had trod on the cucumbers and peed on the zucchini. I’ve received a lot of praise for my work so far, and it feels like the community appreciates the garden, but based on this experience, it makes me wonder if the people who don’t speak up in favor of the garden could care less about the well being of the space.
Despite the haters, the praise I have received for my work so far has fueled the generation of even loftier goals. Someone asked me yesterday what I think about during the more mundane tasks that go with garden stewardship. I answered that I think about how to make gardening more exciting, namely through expanding the space, and the impact that the space has on the community. Before I graduated high school, a family friend hosted a dinner for a group of college students and recent graduates who were working for, Pick Up America an organization whose members walk along America’s major roadways picking up trash. The organization’s campaign is impressive in the dramatic inefficiency of it’s mission. A few hundred Bohemians traipsing across the country can hardly hope to clean up the nation as quickly or as efficiently as state and federally funded prison laborers might be able to. But because these unreasonably idealistic young people believe in their purpose and do it for free, they are able to have a significant impact, not only because they actually do clear hundreds of tons of trash from roadways every year at no cost to taxpayers, but because they serve as examples of those who find value in creating, or contributing to movements that are not yet institutionalized, or re-forming institutional practices that do exist, but are perceived as flawed. In contrast to commercial farming, small-scale gardening is similar in this respect. It is not very efficient to spend a majority of my day working a plot to produce what will supplement the diets of close to one hundred students, who may easily ignore the free fresh produce because they can acquire the same fruits and vegetables at a local supermarket for a cost diminished by the convenience of the one stop shop phenomenon. But it feels like an important step in the direction of making Haverford a place where local agriculture is an important part of the institutional culture. I feel very fortunate to be working in an environment where the potential to affect institutional culture is salient.
It feels strange to that the bulk of my work in the garden is coming to an end while I still have six weeks left in the summer term. I want to keep up this momentum, I want this garden to be important to the Haverford community, and I want local agriculture to be part of Haverford’s institutional culture, but I’m not sure how this is possible. Part of me thinks that I should sneak in to facilities one night, hijack a tractor, and till up all of HCA green so that in the morning, our residents wake up to a small farm. Another part of me wants to make find a way to have HGI produce go directly to the Dining Center. The latter thought is more realistic, but the size of the garden is such that the former might need to happen before such a thing is possible. While I mentioned earlier in the post that I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, I see so much more room for improvement. The garden is at an interesting point in its capacity, where it can do more than garnish the plates of Haverford residents, but less than feed them.
That’s all for now, I’ll update soon with where I decide to focus my efforts. See more pictures of recent developments below.