Chances are, if you’ve visited the vegan or salad bar in Commons since classes have started, you’ve been fortunate enough to sample produce from the newly instated Bates Garden. Located just west of campus off Russell Street, it’s a quick walk to the 1.6-acre plot. In one year, the garden has gone from an ambitious idea to an impressive reality. Nell Houde ‘18 worked all of last year to establish the Bates Garden and create the Bates Garden Club, PLOT. Her efforts paid off, and with the help of Bates faculty and volunteers, the garden was conceived in the spring.
This summer, two students had the opportunity to stay at Bates and cultivate about a quarter-acre plot of land, producing vegetables for the Bates Dining Services and learning what it’s like to manage a sustainable garden. All involved in the garden are looking forward to its advancement and evolution for the 2018-2019 academic year.
The Bates garden is a student-run operation, and as senior Isa Moise ’19 put it at the first PLOT meeting this past week, “A garden takes a lot of work.” Especially if the garden is fully functioning and moving towards sustainability like the Bates Garden.
Heading up the Garden Club alongside Moise is senior Katherine Gaillard ‘19, who when asked what students should know about the garden, said, “The number one thing people should know is that it is a productive garden and giving back to Commons.”
So far this summer, the garden has produced over 573 pounds of tomatoes, 379 pounds of cucumbers, 624 pounds of summer squash, as well as an impressive array of other fruits and vegetables. All of that produce goes directly to Bates Dining Services.
The garden will soon begin prepping for the winter season, and fortunately there are many opportunities to volunteer and get involved. Things need to be done to prepare the garden, such as building cold frames, which are wooden frames with covers on top that help extend the growing season. Soil also needs to be tossed in order to loosen the ground and improve drainage.
For the spring time the Garden Club is considering getting its own greenhouse and removing some more of the trees and foliage that mar the plot. PLOT is seeking people to aid in all of these ventures. To help the garden, students can also sign up for times to water, or simply pull up weeds when they see them.
The two leaders want Bates students to know that the garden is a welcoming space for everyone. Gaillard and Moise both stress that students can choose any amount of involvement they would like and point out that the garden is there to serve whatever purpose students need. That can mean anything from getting your hands dirty to involving yourself in some of the administrative aspects of the Garden Club.
The garden will have open hours from 10 to 12 pm on Tuesdays and 11 to 1 pm on Saturdays. Students can use this time to support the collective efforts of PLOT or simply spend time acquainting themselves with the garden.
At the end of the day the garden is there for students to learn. “It is important for you to be connected to where your food is coming from,” remarked Gaillard.
In addition to monthly meetings, PLOT is looking to have community talks on topics relating to sustainability, food justice, and obviously gardening. The club is hoping to have speakers from places like the Trinity Jubilee Center.
If you want to take part in the diverse range of opportunities PLOT has to offer, you can attend the next meeting which will be held October 10 at 6 pm in the Environmental Studies lounge in Hedge Hall or stop by the garden during any of its open hours.