Meet Laura Sheys: Botanic Garden and Community Garden Intern

11 Jun

Hello! My name is Laura, and I’m the CEEDS community garden intern this summer. I’m interning at the Smith College Botanic Garden, and for my independent project I’m going to be managing the community garden, coordinating volunteers, putting together events and workshops, and getting dirty planting, harvesting and weeding. I’ll also be posting here every other week about what’s going on in the garden and what I’m learning from all of it.

I’m a rising senior at Smith, where I’m a studio art major focusing on printmaking. I’ve been involved with the community garden since my first year. I had absolutely no gardening experience when I came to Smith, but I was drawn to the garden because it was a great hands-on break from studying and we always had hot cider after we worked outside on rainy days. Once I saw (and tasted!) the vegetables our work was actually producing, I realized how amazing community gardens can be. Instead of working to earn money to buy food from the store, I could spend time outside with friends learning how to grow it myself. It’s fun, it saves so many resources, and nothing feels better than waking up early on a cold morning to pick kale for your breakfast. We’re usually so disconnected from where our food comes from, but having the community garden on campus makes it possible to participate in the whole process from start to finish.

I’ve spent much of the first few weeks of my internship in the garden weeding, planting, watering, and throwing woodchips everywhere. We’re growing all kinds of fruits and vegetables, from blueberries and rhubarb to eggplants and peppers, and I’m especially excited about the garlic. The chamomile in the herb garden smells amazing right now, and we’re going to be drowning in raspberries and tomatoes in a few weeks. This week I brought two giant bags of lettuce to the Campus Center cafe. Seeing the lettuce I remember seeding sold as part of their salad special was an incredible feeling for someone who hadn’t grown anything three years ago.

In addition to picking lettuce, moving a pile of woodchips the size of a minivan, and destroying epic amounts of weeds, I’ve met so many people while working. It seems like when I’m gardening, everybody wants to say hello and share their own garden stories and ideas. I’ve talked to Smith alumni, campus workers, people who live nearby, and even a wild edibles expert, who taught me how to identify some of our useful weeds. This speaks to the amazing potential for community-building that community gardening has. By working together in a community garden, strangers can become neighbors and friends, share knowledge, and learn from each other, all while working to grow food locally and sustainably.

Laura Sheys ’13

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