Towards Creating a Long-term Proposal for a Community Garden at Ohio Wesleyan University
To provide students on campus and the community the option of fresh garden produce at minimum cost while simultaneously creating bonds between campus and organizations in the greater context of Delaware. I wish to involve the garden in the local farmer’s market and the local homeless shelters/food banks in Delaware to help alleviate issues of hunger in the surrounding areas.
A SYSTEM OF WORK:
Many of the students on campus are interested in urban agriculture and farming practices. In my opinion, due to a lack of student visibility based on location preferences, lack of administrative support, and lack of funding, students have found no incentive to maintain the garden here on campus. Many students have expressed to me that if it were possible to allocate federal work study to this program that they would participate. And if this garden does fall into disarray or become an “eyesore” because of a lack of volunteers (as it experienced this summer), plans can be quickly made to convert the allotted space to a flower garden or sitting area.
That being said, I hope to work with WCSA, MTSO, and Stratford Ecological center to develop a plan for a regular staff of students to upkeep and maintain the garden. I look to construct a system in which a lead official who works in regular contact with either MTSO or Stratford supervises a core of 4-5 students on campus working a maximum of 10 hours a week. Positions will be reserved for students of certain graduating classes to ensure continuity. Secondarily, I am interested in enacting a system whereby students who volunteer their time may take a portion of produce.
I wish to work with Buildings and grounds as well to perhaps allocate spaces under their department for students to directly maintain the garden using federal work study grants. Especially over the summer months, the garden can be maintained via two or three student employees under Buildings and Grounds and also the intern at MTSO or Stratford. Not only can this give international students not leaving campus meaningful employment, but also allow for continuity in maintaining the garden if the Student Intern working with Stratford or MTSO is a year long position.
Multiple Locations are currently being pondered upon. The most promising to me is the green space between Corns and Beeghly. It is a currently unused space, with ample access to water and removed from high student-traffic areas to prevent damage. Yet, it is visible from the Jay Walk (arguably the most traveled spot on campus). In the past, I feel as if the garden suffered from a lack of visibility to students as well as faculty and staff. This central location allows professors, community members, and students greater access to the garden. A garden can also be, in my opinion, a positive aesthetic addition to the campus: a selling point to future students, and many tours walk directly past this area.
CONTACTS AND GATHERING INFORMATION:
I have currently reached out to contacts at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, the Stratford Ecological Center, Oberlin College, and Chris Fink to begin formulating details on the garden plan. Upon sitting down with these contacts I am concerned with the following questions:
- Scale and Location: How big should our garden be if we can allocate funds to hire 4 or 5 students?
- Organization: What format do you or your organizations use to organize work hours and keep project members on task?
- Methodology: What are the most effective methods you employ when growing?
- Raised beds? High Tunnels?
- Organic fertilizers? Manure? Mulch?
- Interns: Is it possible to maintain a position with you? (MTSO and Stratford Only)
- Working in Delaware: Can we help feed the needy as well as ourselves? (Chris Fink)
TO THE FUTURE:
With my efforts, and those of others on campus working on this project (Hrrmmph, Tree House), I hope to accomplish our goals. I will be providing a weekly update concerning this project. In the coming week, I hope to sit down with MTSO and Stratford as well as organize a meeting with those at Oberlin and Chris Fink (who is abroad until the 8th) for the week we return to campus from Mid-Semester Break. After meeting with them, I will work on a budget for the enterprise, making it as in-depth as I possibly can. Following such, I will meet with Jerry Lherrison of WCSA, Wendy Piper, and an Official from Financial Aid in separate meetings concerning funding. I then will seek out Dan Hitchell to talk with him concerning a specific department under Buildings and Grounds.
Weekly updates on my progress will be posted and will be annoying…