Archive by Author

Community Garden Farm Stand

10 Aug

On the last Friday in July I hosted my first Community Garden farm stand in the Campus Center (CC).  I was a bit nervous about hosting the farm stand on my own, but everyone who passed by had, at the very least, a smile for me.  Holding the stand over lunch time meant that there were many people passing through the CC.  I was greeted by Smith School for Social Work students, construction workers from the Cutter-Ziskind renovation, some older folks visiting campus, fancy ladies from some event in the Carroll Room and, of course, my fellow Smithies.  It was really nice to chat with people as they slowed down to read my sign on their way into the Café or as they headed out on their way to Chapin Lawn.

CC farm stand (1)
Claire and the garden stand sign.

The main thing that people commented on was how beautiful the veggies looked.  That day I was selling cherry tomatoes, carrots (some purple, some orange), swiss chard, and beets.  The cherry tomatoes and the carrots were quite popular and sold relatively easily.  The swiss chard and beets were harder to sell.  One of my friends bought some swiss chard to make herself dinner -but only because I had already convinced her of its deliciousness.  Many others said that the beets were cute or pretty but only one person actually ended up buying any.

CC farm stand (2)
In sales mode.

It was really satisfying to sell the (literal) fruits of my labor and the labor of the other volunteers.  Making people happy with food was a very positive experience for me.  I love it when volunteers who help in the garden take veggies because I know it will be getting eaten and I know that it’s a great reward for their effort that will keep them coming back.  But there was something even nicer about bringing the garden produce into the beating heart of campus, the CC, and sharing it with even more people.  Nearly everyone who stopped at the stand knew of the Community Garden and seemed especially happy to know that the veggies they were buying were grown on campus.  It doesn’t get much more local than this!

I will continue to hold farm stands in the CC or on Chapin Deck from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays through the end of the summer. I hope to see you there!

-Claire Adams ‘16

Summer Manager, Smith Community Garden

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Permaculture: UMass vs. Smith

31 Jul

It all began last semester when Helena Farrell, the woman who started the famed permaculture movement at UMass, came to speak to my LSS 100 class about her experience.  I had heard of permaculture before but had never really listened and I thought it was just some flashy new gardening technique.  But Helena Farrell made me and my fellow Community Garden org members in the class realize that this was a model that could really work for us and could help us solve some of the challenges we had been facing.  It would mean we would have less area that we needed to plant every spring with our limited crew of volunteers and it would help the garden be more sustainable and consistent from year to year, permaculture also appealed to us because it implied a deeper connection between the Earth and people and allow for both to be taken care of.  We went up to Helena at the end of her lecture and shared our excitement with her.  She encouraged us to look to the current model in place at UMass because it has been so successful.

I kept permaculture for the garden on a front burner in my mind and UMass on the back burner.  I knew that there were certain aspects of the UMass system that could only thrive at a school like UMass and might not be directly applicable to our garden, such as credits and work-study positions dedicated to managing the gardens on campus and planning for their development and planting.  In any case, I attended one day of the three day Permaculture Your Campus Conference that UMass was hosting earlier this summer thanks to funding through the Smith Students’ Aid Society.

Going in to the conference I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but it turned out to be extremely helpful and inspirational.  I learned all about how to analyze a site for it’s permaculture opportunities from Jonathan Bates of Food Forest Farm, the importance of partnering with other local organizations based on the Grow Food Amherst model and Sarah Berquist’s PC in the PV practicum course, and how UMass has been able to integrate their garden and permaculture efforts into the academic fabric of the campus and market their campaigns successfully.  I was able to talk to UMass permaculture staff and students but I was also able to meet and talk to gardeners from Michigan, New York and California.  They each came with a whole host of perspectives on permaculture, some were experienced permaculture gardeners, others were permaculture skeptics from traditional farming backgrounds. UMASSgarden                                           The permaculture garden at UMass.

Just hearing about the wide range of motivations that people had for coming to the conference made me realize just how big the permaculture movement really is and how the guiding principles of permaculture can be manipulated to suit the needs of any garden, no matter what the scale or the institutional context.  It made me feel better to know that we could be inspired by UMass and use their resources without having to walk perfectly in their footsteps.  The Community Garden can incorporate permaculture on our own terms so that the garden continues to fit within the fabric of Smith while creating positive social change through the principles the practice embodies.

-Claire Adams ‘16
Summer Manager, Smith Community Garden

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Meet Claire Adams: 2013 Botanic Garden and Community Garden Intern

26 Jul

Hi, my name is Claire and I am this year’s CEEDS Community Garden/Botanic Garden intern. I am a rising sophomore and an American studies major with a landscape studies minor. I am from New York City and have absolutely no experience with either gardening or landscaping, so suffice it to say that there has been a pretty steep learning curve for me this summer. But I love the feeling of being able to identify more and more plants every day. As the summer manager of the Community Garden, I am working to make the garden more sustainable both as a student organization and as an ecological landscape. My work has been focusing largely on the possibilities for permaculture in half of our garden and on planning for the years to come.


As I said I have no experience with gardening– I was initially drawn to the Community Garden because I wanted to gain a better understanding of where my food comes from and have the experience of eating things that grew from seeds I had put in the ground. But I realized that I had been thinking more about the garden half of our name and less about the community half. I realized that without the community there is no garden. How can we make the garden more engaging? How can we strengthen our connections with our community so that we can strengthen our garden? I think that part of the answer is outreach but I think that another part of the answer is permaculture.

A sampling of the delicious fruits ripening in the garden this past week.

Permaculture is about more than just perennial plants arranged to look more like a forest than a garden, it is an approach to garden design that is based on the health of the earth but also on the health of the social context in which the garden exists. I am excited to get current org members excited about a new garden plan and get new students who may never have been exposed to gardening or food production to get outside and get their hands dirty. If you can’t imagine the excitement of a city kid pulling their first carrot out of the ground I can tell you from personal experience that it involved yelling and exclamations with every bite at how delicious the still dirty carrot was. My roommate can also tell you that I was still talking about that carrot several hours after the fact and now here I am still talking about it several days later.

Stay tuned for more posts in the very near future as I attempt to make up for lost time and share more of my thoughts and inspiration for the garden.

-Claire Adams, ’16

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