What I Did This Summer: Community Garden Technician

Originally posted 9/16/18


Today's blog post: What I Did This Summer: Community Garden Technician

What is the St. Kate's Community Garden?

The St. Kate's Community Garden was begun in April 2017 by the Food Justice Coalition, an on-campus student organization. Right around that time, I was introduced to the two presidents of the Food Justice Coalition both outgoing seniors, who told me about their work with the garden. They were desperately looking for someone to take over the FJC. It didn't take much convincing, honestly, for me to realize that community gardening was something I could learn to become passionate about. 

Though the summer and fall of 2017, the St. Kate's Community Garden produced 40 pounds of produce! 

Fast forward to Spring 2018, and I was able to get a spring position as a student worker with the Assistantship Mentoring Program. My mentor, Christina, and I decided together that my main focus would be to build awareness around Food Justice issues on campus, specifically the garden. I had such a fun semester doing that, and we planted in the spring for the 2018 season! 

And then, the biology department offered to sponsor a summer job position, the Community Garden Technician position, so that the community garden would be cared for over the summer. 

What was my role?

My role, essentially, was to make sure the garden was cared for over the summer. I wanted to engage students on campus, so I sent out several emails looking for interested volunteers to water the garden, and from there I set up a watering schedule for my team. I took my turns on the watering schedule as well.

One of our biggest projects for the summer was to expand our garden! We received money from the Student Senate to build a new garden bed, as well as to do some upkeep, purchase additional supplies, and more. I ordered supplies, coordinated pickup and delivery, and was heavily involved in actually building the garden and putting in the plants!

The St. Kate's Food Shelf met once per month this summer, so I would do garden harvests and deliver the produce to the food shelf. 

Something else I did this summer was harvest produce and then walk around to the various departments and offices and distribute it to students and staff members. It was a really fun way to meet people and a fantastic way to show off our beautiful vegetables and herbs. 

What did I learn?

I learned an awful lot about caring for a garden--watering, weeding, sunlight, and more! 

I learned the hard way that TWO tomatillo plants are needed to produce fruit, which was disappointing, considering how beautiful and big our ONE tomatillo plant got all by itself. 

I learned that warm, sunny weather and rain are two of the best things for any happy garden. 

I learned that winter squash vines are HUGE! 

It is incredibly rewarding to walk past the garden every day and see how big and beautiful everything is, and know that I helped to get it there. More importantly, it's rewarding to know that the produce (36 pounds and counting!) is going to feed students through the St. Kate's food shelf, as well as feed students through group harvesting and cooking projects, now that the academic year is in session. 

The final installment in the "What I Did This Summer" series, coming soon to a blog near you!