Students harvest benefits of garden

The Geneseo Food Project celebrated its one-year anniversary on Sept. 17 with an open house where visitors could sample and take home fresh vegetables from the Geneseo Community Garden.

According to the organization's Web site, the project began in fall 2007 "to explore the relationships between food, environmental sustainability, and social justice, and to model an environmentally and socially sustainable food system on campus."

The Web site explains that the project, which is not yet recognized by the Student Association, has two goals: the establishment of both the Geneseo Community Garden and the Geneseo Institute for the Study of Food, Justice, and the Environment.

The community garden is located in the Spencer J. Roemer Arboretum. Students, faculty and community members meet Wednesday nights from 5 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to grow vegetables and herbs such as heirloom tomatoes, spinach, garlic, beets, and basil.

"The idea of organic food and locally grown food is really important to me," said freshman Megan Carey, who got involved with the garden after hearing about it during a Geneseo Environmental Organization meeting. "After a couple hours on a Wednesday weeding and watering, I got to take home tomatoes, basil and beets."

Ken Cooper, English professor and advisor for the garden, said the group is currently preparing the garden for winter by creating "cold boxes," which are designed to grow more hardy crops. He said that the garden is "a pilot project that is totally voluntary."

Allison Malone, a junior, worked on the garden as a project for her education major. "It is a great project for getting the larger community involved, especially school kids," said Malone. "It involves all subjects: math, science, English, and business."

Senior Stephanie Aquilina and freshman Lars Mudrak said that they want to further expand the idea of locally grown food by establishing a new farming strategy called Community Supported Agriculture. If a CSA was implemented at Geneseo, students would become shareholders in an organization that travels to farmer's markets to buy locally grown food.

"Students would pay $10 to $20 bi-weekly, and in return they would get fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables all year, said Aquilina. "It's all about teaching people to eat with the seasons."

"The garden and institute are about bringing students, faculty, and community together," said Mudrak.