Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hofstra Discovery Group Puts in a New Student Garden

The Hofstra Ground Department prepared the surface of the garden by
rototilling it and taking out grass and weeds.  Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
One of the things I love about being a professor at Hofstra University is its student-centered culture.  The university is truly committed to solid educational experiences for students.  One of its unique programs is the Discovery Program run by Student Affairs.  The director of the program is Ashley Gray who does a great job putting the several day event together.

The students putting in the central paths and raised beds.  Photo by
Bob Brinkmann.
The Discovery Program brings new students to Hofstra before classes start for a variety of enrichment programs that seek to develop leadership skills, provide opportunities for service learning, and create experiences that will help them live more sustainable lives.  You can read about this unique program here.  It's really an awesome opportunity for incoming students to meet their peers and some of the campus leaders.

I was lucky enough to be asked to work with a subset of the Discovery Program students interested in sustainability and the environment and we decided to have them help put in the new student garden in the Netherlands housing area.

They were rather precise in their measurements.
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
I put together a plan with the help of Hofstra's amazing grounds department led by Fred Soviero (if you haven't been on campus, you need to visit--the entire campus is like a botanical garden!) and Hofstra's Sustainability officer in facilities, Terry Greis, for the long-term maintenance of the garden.  We decided to focus on fall and spring crops with a nitrogen-fixing ground cover for the summer when students (and faculty) are not around very much.

So today, the students designed the garden with minimal directions from me.  I just asked them to create a central path and 12 raised beds.  Take a look at the photos at what they accomplished in just two short hours.  They created the paths, cut the borders, created the beds, planted some perennial flowering plants as a border (malvaceae, day lily, and mums), and planted seeds for fall crops (kale, radish, and a variety of lettuce).  The Hofstra grounds department installed a special watering system for the garden so it will get the appropriate watering.

No slackers in this group!
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
Students in the Discovery Program can continue to participate in the garden, but it will also be developed by my intro to sustainability class and by students in Hofstra's Green Living and Learning Community that is housed in a building next to the garden.

Overall, this looks to be a great project that involves several different stakeholders.  

But, it was the students from the Discovery Program who did the initial hard work to put the gardens in place.  The students are from all over the country.  Two came from California and Arizona, but most were from the northeast.  Wherever they are from, they are an inspirational group of people!  

I look forward to working with them over the next four years and I am grateful that they were able to help me develop this garden for our students.

They did a great job in creating solid edges.
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

They worked quite well as a team.
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

They made pathways between the raised beds.
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

They planted border plants to try to keep people from stepping on
the beds.  Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

They also planted vegetable seeds for fall crops.
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

I couldn't believe how much they got done in two hours!
Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

What a great group!  Photo by Terry Greis.
And funny!

1 comment:

callanamt@hotmail.com said...

Bob, delighted to see that spot taking shape. I visited a few years ago when the farm I worked at hosted the Discovery Club. Would love to reconnect w that group now that I'm working my own 5 acres in Old Westbury. We are hosting a pot luck networking meeting next week right here in East Williston w many of the Small Farm Summit folks. Would love if u could attend. Will resend evite..