Planting seeds for a campus sustainable food system

Visit the Middlebury College Garden Project

'To reimagine gardening is to see it as an act of healing, where through story,
imagination and the nourishment that arises through working together,
we can repair, somehow, the wounds of the soul and those of the world.
' Eli Rogosa

'Most students are uprooted, isolated from their own places, forced to work away from the fields or parks that they have known growing up. At the garden, students can begin to re-learn what it means to know a place, to live in a place. We become familiar with the land as we watch to see the snow melt, the buds swell, anxiously awaiting planting time. We become familiar with the heat of deep Vermont summers, the sounds of crickets and cicadas at noon, when everything else has stopped, and the feel of dry, hot soil beneath our toes. We learn to taste the crisp September air more closely, searching for a hint of the first frost, watching for a sign to cover the lettuce. We feel the calm of deep winter, the land heavy and slow with the coldIf we talk of building a sustainable society we must somehow learn all of these things, but we all know that classes cannot teach them. But the Garden, the Garden can.' Bennett Konesni '04.5

Establishing a hands-on organic garden in a learning community of the caliber of Middlebury College is a compelling opportunity that can profoundly enrich the college experience. Understanding that natural ecosystems are the model upon which all sustainable systems are based, we will create an 'sustainable campus' garden program, in partnership with food service staff and college faculty. The garden will involve students in creating a campus-based food system that integrates:

- action-research in local food and seed system issues,

- Dining hall composting,
- Organic food production for a sustainable cuisine,
- Restoration of wild habitats, an foraging wild edible plants,
- Seed-saving rare Native and heirloom vegetables, and breeding our own vegetables,
- Storytelling, creative arts and interdisciplinary research projects.

We are partnering with Restoring Our Seed, a sare.org funded program for organic seed production and crop improvement for sustainable food systems. Our project, Wild Garden, will support a way for students to live and root in their place, restoring themselves as they restore the cycles that sustain them. Within this vital garden agro-ecosystem, we will grow genepools from Frank Morton's wildgardenseed.com. Students will select and continue the breeding lines to develop unique, beautiful, tasty salad greens for the college cafeteria. The program will produce a written Wild Garden curriculum module with photo documentation and student research and creative arts projects posted on the growseed.org and college websites. We will conduct a field day to showcase our program to other colleges and regional farmers.

Contacts: jay.leshinsky@verizon.net, and

humus1@netvision.net.il