Students plan for Community Garden

by Frankie Olito / Beacon Staff • April 5, 2012

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If initiated, part of the garden will be under the scoreboard at Rotch Field.
If initiated, part of the garden will be under the scoreboard at Rotch Field.

Under the scoreboard at Rotch Field in the South End is a small patch of grass. The dormant area is crowded with dried dirt  and brown weeds, contrasting the green turf.

But now, some students are vying to bring this dead patch to life with a community garden for Emerson.

The Student Government Association is in the process of proposing an initiative for a community garden to the Board of Trustees after many students requested a plant patch for the college, according to the Executive Treasure of the SGA Tanya Flink.

“As members of the Emerson College community, we need space for a garden that all can share. A garden would serve as a space to learn how to grow our own food and to teach one another, peer-to-peer, student to faculty, and professor to class,” the garden proposal reads.

The efforts of the SGA were inspired by the community gardens at Boston University and Northeastern University, according to the proposal.

Boston University has a rooftop greenhouse that grows plants and foods for the college’s community. The garden is on top of the Stone Science building on the college’s campus. Students collectively care for the plants based on a schedule, according to BU’s Organic Gardening Club website.

The potential location of Emerson’s garden is a mile away from campus and is about a 20 minutes walk. The field is operated by Emerson and is where the college’s soccer, lacrosse, and softball teams play.

Flink said the distance is the biggest problem with the initiative.

“In warm months, students would go,” the junior theatre studies and political communications major said. “I don’t know if enough students will want to make trips in the cold months when it’s 20 degrees, though.”

Flink said although several students have expressed attraction with the idea of a community garden, she fears students will lose interest. Alyssa Guarino, the writing, literature, and publishing senator for SGA, said she agrees with Flink.

“I hope students carry through,” she said. “There might not be support from younger students once the main supporters graduate.”

To avoid the problem of losing student interest, Flink said she suggested hiring a groundskeeper to maintain the garden.

Despite Flink and Guarino’s concerns,  the proposal does cite benefits of the plot if the initiative is approved.

“It will be used as a supplemental tool to educate about biodiversity and growth in real outdoor space, bringing Emersonians together in a unique learning environment,” the proposal says. 

“Students can afford to be healthy on an affordable budget,” Guarino said.

Like Guarino, Erin Moriarty, a junior marketing communication major and co-president of Earth Emerson, said a community garden would be a great addition to the college.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea because it is an excellent educational and experimental development,” Moriarty said.

Jon Honea, assistant professor for the Communications and Sciences Department and professor of the Earth and Sustainability class, said his students have also been pushing for a community garden.

“In my course, this exercise has been useful in teaching the students about various local sustainability issues and how to coordinate change when many stakeholders with diverse interests are involved,” Honea said.

He said should the community garden be approved, he would use it as a teaching tool in his course.

“It would be a great example of efforts to reduce our resource footprint by getting more resources locally,” Honea said.

President M. Lee Pelton plans to walk to Rotch Field with a group of students to discuss the possibility of a community garden April 9 at 3 p.m.