Students and Faculty at Hereford Cultivate Food, Community
Residential College garden project aims to grow vegetables and relationships.
Posted October 30, 2008, 12:36 PM EST
Photo by Melissa Maki
An interesting, informal research project has cropped up at the
Two years ago, Keith Williams, assistant professor of physics, was considering moving to
The pair decided on some basic principles for the garden, that it be as organic as possible—not using pesticides and building up soil quality over time, and that it involve students. At Takahashi's request, facilities management tilled up a large space near the Malone building for the project and the gardening began.
The garden has since doubled in size and continues to expand. Williams and Takahashi co-taught “Local Foods: From Garden to Table” a short course at
On a practical level, students and faculty are trying to figure out the best way to produce high crop yields from a small area without overtaxing the soil. They are experimenting with different strategies such as multiculture, interplanting, trap cropping, and cover cropping, as well as other organic solutions to pest problems. They have had successes and failures, and they’ve been learning along the way. Coffee grounds have proven to be very effective in deterring hungry bunnies from the salad greens and a tea made from petunia leaves helped control aphids that were threatening the tomatoes earlier this year.
Perhaps less immediately tangible, but even more important, is the question of whether the mini-farm will promote good faculty/student rapport. “The project opens up a channel of communication that I’ve found that the students are really interested in. They really like the idea of being able to interact with faculty on a nonacademic level,” says Williams.
“Communal gardening is a good exercise in working effectively with others,” says Dan Michaelson, third-year double major in engineering and environmental science. Michaelson, who has maintained a large garden for himself and his family in northern