Saturday, October 24, 2009

Forbes Residential College Organic Garden

Name: Forbes Residential College Organic Garden, aka “The Garden Project”

Location: Princeton, New Jersey (Princeton University)

Years: September 2006-present

Funded by: The Office of Sustainability and the High Meadows Foundation

Researcher: First student manager was Ruthie Schwab ‘09

The Office of Sustainability and the High Meadows foundation funded a 1.5-acre organic garden that is run by students. The garden is located near Forbes College, off of Alexander Street and next to the Springdale golf course. The garden provides produce for the Forbes Dining Hall, the Graduate College Dining Hall, and local businesses like a pizza place and artisan ice cream shop. There is also a composting area and an area for washing produce on the site. One of the main goals of this garden is to educate Princeton students as well as the local community about organic gardening. Though this garden is mainly overseen by the Office of Sustainability, it also has connections to many other campus groups, including Greening Princeton, Slow Food Princeton, Forbes College, the Princeton Environmental Network, the Farmers’ Market that takes place every Tuesday on campus, and other academic departments.

As far as future plans go, the Garden Project is hoping to expand its harvest by extending the growing season into the winter using “coldframes”, which are essentially mini-greenhouses. They would also like to build one larger greenhouse and a tool shed.

I think this project is successful at demonstrating to Princeton students just how much can be done by students like us, our peers--not professional gardeners with extensive training and education. For instance, this garden grows 20 different types of lettuce! Indeed, this garden is meant to be just that: a demonstration garden. There are several lectures a year and special dinners that are hosted at the garden site in an attempt to raise awareness and encourage involvement. I think this project is successful on a small scale, though it would be nice to see it expand in the future.

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