By Adam Hornbuckle
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new campus garden located in front of the Public Safety building was held on on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 12:30 p.m., postponed from Tuesday, Oct. 31.
The garden, which was created by the Center for Sustainability, is a collaboration between Dr.Vic Divenere, professor of earth sciences, and the Coalition for Conservation club, which promotes conservation and sustainability. The garden will act not only as a service learning project for student volunteers, but will also provide fresh grown fruits and vegetables that promote sustainable and healthy food options.
The ribbon cutting ceremony featured six speakers and refreshments prepared by the campus nutrition club; these refreshments featured ingredients being grown in the garden. Attendees had an opportunity to try some of the food grown at the garden. The first speaker was Erica Ferrara, a junior geology major and president of the Coalition for Conservation club. Ferrara welcomed all guests and introduced them to the campus garden.
Divenere spoke second. “Do you know where your food comes from? Most of us don’t know where it comes from or where it’s produced.” He went on to explain, “what we are doing is to address where our food comes from and to have healthy food to make healthy people.” Divenere expressed the plans to expand the garden next semester and his hopes to tie the garden in with academics. “Ideally we want this to grow into a significant part of our program of environmental sustainability,” he said.
Jennifer Rogers-Brown, a professor in the sociology department, spoke next. Rodgers-Brown spoke to the sociological aspects to the garden and food justice.
Justin Poly, the campus chef from Aramark, was the fourth speaker. Poly praised the students who have developed the garden and spoke to the community aspects of growing food. “The idea of farming isn’t about the cultivation of food, it’s about perfecting and cultivating the human spirit,” Poly said.
Speaking after Poly was Bhavani Jaroff, a local natural foods chef and food activist. “I’m happy to see this garden here and I really do hope to see it grow,” Jaroff said. Jaroff runs a local chapter of Slow Food USA, an organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking; Jaroff also owns iEatGreen, an organization that provides resources to promote sustainability. Jaroff also spoke about food, farming and its interconnectivity to our health.
Last to speak was Scott Carlin, an earth science professor and director of the Center for Sustainability. Carlin spoke about the importance of sustainability and the campus garden. “All of our speakers have talked about our relationship to the ground,” Carlin said. “Sustainability is about health. Healthy people, healthy planet.”
The plot of land the garden sits on has been provided by the Facilities department along with electricity and water for the garden. Facilities also built a shed for the storage of farming tools. Funds for the garden’s seeds and tools are being provided through the Coalition for Conservation’s budget. “We have been growing a variety of different salad greens, carrots, beets, and radishes. All things that don’t necessarily need to be cooked so we can give them to students,” Ferrara said. “All the veggies are going to be growing into winter as well so we will be having a continual harvest.”
The club members devised a five year plan for the garden and hope to expand it enough to support a mobile market they can bring to needy Long Island communities. Club members hope to see their produce eventually used in campus eateries as part of a larger collaboration with campus food provider, Aramark.
Aramark would be open to having food grown on the campus garden served in the Winnick Student Center, according to Poly. He specified that it could be used in a theme night and remarked that other campuses that have Aramark food service have served food from their respective campus gardens before.
Students work on the farm every Friday. Any students who are interested in volunteering on the farm, can email: Postfirstname.lastname@example.org for more information.