|Green Initiative - Community Garden
The community garden is located on Seminary Road a little
lower down the hill than the entrance to the top of the campus. It was
initiated by some students in a class Environmental Ethics
about 15 years ago. In subsequent years the gardeners have been self-selected
students, faculty, staff and spouses. Once in a while, someone is an accomplished gardener
who teaches the rest of us some rich lore and practices. Most of us who
are gardeners are teaching ourselves as we go along. You may become a
gardener in the Community Garden by saying you want to, whether youve
ever gardened before or not. As a gardener you'll learn to compost, weed, plant, dead-head flowers, and eat nice produce. The food that grows in the garden is for the gardeners. The garden also needs physical maintenance, such as path clearing, woodchip
hauling to the paths, repair of garden furniture. You see there are many
ways to become a gardener.
Some motivations gardeners have had for participating in
- Grow food in clean soil and prepare it for ourselves
and our families and friends fresh from its beds;
- Get outside in a rather tranquil environment and expose
ourselves to breezes, sun, shade, dirt, birds and other critters;
- Feel grounded spiritually even when we are otherwise busy
driving cars, studying books, discussing ideas, and worrying about bills;
- Learn something new about how food can come to our homes;
- Develop practices that are health-giving alternatives to
agribusiness and corporate food distribution systems;
Experience community in a context where no one is graded
or paid, though we have different roles here at the Seminary.
Since gardening can be a spiritual, aesthetic, educational,
social, political, agricultural, and economic practice, gardeners come
with different goals. Here are some guidelines for sharing this space
- We garden organically. We feed the soil the compost
we either make from kitchen scraps or buy as organic compost, and hence
we help keep the soil living and full of organisms. As such, the soil
fights off pests. We do not use petrochemical herbicides, pesticides,
or fertilizer. When there are pests, we use mechanical barriers to protect
- We garden the whole garden together. Instead of dividing
up the garden into individual plots, we think and talk together informally
about how the space should be used so everyone gets to harvest what
they want. Sometimes weve tried to have meetings of the gardeners
in the garden, but that can be frustrating in the face of everyones
busy schedules. In that event, we rely on the phone, chance encounter,
and word of mouth to consult.
- When you plant something new, particularly as seeds,
the earth must be kept moist until germination. This requires watering
every afternoon, presuming the automatic watering system comes on early
in the morning. When you plant seeds, make sure people know you need
extra visits to the garden, and take a little extra responsibility yourself.
When the green plants appear, you may need to surround them with copper
strips to protect from snails until they are large and strong.
- When you take your turn to water and weed, water the
whole garden, not just your babies. Periodically repair the earthen
basin around the perennials that captures water and prevents run-off.
- Harvesting many vegetables is not only a pleasure; it
is a duty! Green beans and cucumbers, for instance, need to be picked
so the vine knows to continue producing. If you fail to pick mature
vegetables, the vine gets a chemical message to stop producing altogether.
- One way you can participate in the garden is by helping
to feed the compost pile, which if tended will make food to return
to the soil. After the soil has given us food, it needs to be fed also.
We give the soil vitamins, minerals, and live organisms by creating
compost. Since we rarely have manure, our compost pile is a cold one.
It will make compost, but more slowly than if we had manure. Cold compost
piles also do not reach the hot temperature needed to kill weed seeds
and other seeds. So we do not put weeds in the compost pile, and after
putting compost on the garden sometimes were surprised by the
numbers of volunteers that come up. Its a judgment call whether
to let the volunteers reach maturity, or return them to the pile.
Compost is its own subject in many ways. Save vegetable clippings,
fruit peels, coffee and tea grounds with their filters and bags, egg
shells, corn cobs
. Do not put dairy, meat, and oils (butter,
grease, other oil) in the compost pile. Citrus peels compost very
slowly. Commercial produce growers use herbicides and pesticides,
which concentrate in compost, so ideally the kitchen scraps will be
from organic produce. But it is difficult to consistently purchase
organic produce unless we consistently frequent shops that specialize
in this way (like Good Earth on Sir Francis Drake in Fairfax).
The gardeners therefore hope your kitchen scraps will come from organic
food, but if it doesnt, the value in your participating in the
garden by composting and decreasing waste going to the landfill overweighs
the danger of toxic contamination.
Add your scraps to the working compost pile. There may be
a finished pile that is ready to be put on the garden, and do not add
fresh scraps to that pile. You will be able to tell by looking which
is done which is not, if there is more than one.
- There are garden tools for gardeners near the garden
gate, and in a plastic box with lid near the table. Please get yourself
a pair of gardening gloves. (Longs, Sunnyside Nursery, even the grocery
stores may have them.) Humble ones may be all you need.
- When you harvest greens, use the pluck and return method.
Take outer leaves from several plants, and leave the live plant to grow