Proposal
 

 PROPOSAL


The purpose of a Smith College Community Garden will first and foremost be as a teaching and learning tool. The garden will provide an educational experience in a variety of ways: as a practical academic resource, as a model for a sustainable food system, and as a community asset. 

The garden can bring together many diverse areas of academics: art students can sketch tomato vines, engineering students can work on plans to improve irrigation through rain water collection, or chemistry and biology students can study the soil composition. The Garden can be used in classes like Lisa Armstrong’s Feminisms and the Fate of the Planet, or Leslie King’s First Year Seminar, Science and Politics of Food, Water and Energy, The possibilities for scholarly and practical application are endless.

The garden will be a way for Smith to express its true priorities. “Smith’s commitment to sustainability is grounded in its educational mission,” says President Carol Christ. “The college recognizes its responsibility to produce environmentally responsible citizens and leaders and to demonstrate the values of environmental sustainability in our daily operations.” Encouraging a community-supported garden will allow the college to demonstrate this commitment. We will promote sustainability by practicing techniques such as natural pest control, compost application and soil replenishment, and rainwater collection. The garden will make a commitment to environmentally responsible and low impact gardening methods in all areas of operation. It will also provide a chance for members of the Smith community to learn about small-scale, environmentally conscious agriculture and to actively practice the principals of sustainability and environmental awareness that Smith already champions in other ways.

Also, the garden will show Smith’s dedication to community engagement and integration. As Carol Christ put it, “working together on projects and initiatives help maintain the cohesion of the community.” The hard work and collaboration required to successfully maintain a garden will be an excellent opportunity to build and sustain community. The garden will be a place where students, faculty, and staff can learn from each other and work together. A Community Garden Committee will staff the garden, hosting work parties and workshops to sustain student interest in the garden and to teach students gardening skills. These workshops serve a dual purpose: they will keep the garden running and ensure that the garden is an educational tool. 

Workshops ideas include:

• Germinating seedlings
• Transplanting
• Harvesting
• Preserving
• And more…

We will also engage students in fieldtrips to local farms, such as:

• Seeds of Solidarity in North Quabin 
• Hampshire farm and CSA
• Montview farms in Waitleigh

We will encourage the Smith community to provide feedback and ideas for our growing plans; we want this garden to reflect and serve Smith community interests.

PILOT PROGRAM 

As proponents of a Smith Community Garden, we understand that it is our responsibility to prove that our Community Garden will be a success. For this reason, we propose a Pilot Program that will extend from March to November 30, 2008. The success of this program will be determined by the completion of the following objectives:

• Evidence of Smith Community Engagement:
o List of student organizations which got involved in the garden
o Evaluations by individuals who volunteered in garden. 
o Letter of endorsement from faculty and staff
o Community Involvement Log: list of events, attendance 

• Evidence of Garden Output Success:
o Harvest Dinner in October
o Produce Output Report 
o Document of expenditures

• Evidence of Education:
o Education of student body through workshops and fieldtrips
o Log of academic involvement 
o Written form of faculty-collaborated ideas for further academic involvement 

If we are successful in meeting these objectives, we ask that the Garden will become an enduring installation in the Smith Community. We believe this garden will be an asset to Smith College, and therefore will prove to be not only tolerated but celebrated on-campus.

OUR “ASK”

If our pilot program is successful, we ask that Smith College recognize us an institutional fixture, both figuratively and physically. We ask that our desired site be approved for this year’s pilot program and upon the first season’s success, guaranteed to us for future use.

Funding: 
While we are taking initiative to gather funding independently, we ask that the Smith College Administration assist us in the funding process and allocate $1,000 to our project for the season of the Pilot Program. 

This season, we are planning to raise 500$ by fundraising activities, such as:

• Potluck with a door fee
• Educational movie screening (for example, “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil”)
• Local goodies bake sale
• Fundraising in the wider Northampton community (through restaurants, CISA, etc.)
• T-shirts/canvas bags

We are currently pursuing multiple grants from organizations such as Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), Earth watch Institute, and The Garden Club of America. We are also seeking to work through alumni networks and the future Center for Sustainability, both possible funding sources.
For the summer, several current Committee members have expressed interest in staying on campus to work on the garden. Some are hoping to do internships with the Botanic garden and would participate in the garden part-time. Others are pursuing CISA internships or outside educational farm-work. We are willing to find our own stipends or income for this summer. 

As part of our institutionalization for the following year, we ask that the administration allocate approximately $8,000 to our project, $7,200 of which would serve as summer Praxis stipends, (3x$2,400), and $800 of which would help to cover ongoing expenses. We pledge to continue fundraising efforts after institutionalization. 
Since this is a time-sensitive initiative, we would like to begin before the end of March. Beyond this date, beginning the Garden for this season is no longer viable. Therefore, we wish to expedite the organizational process as much as possible to continue building momentum.

If we are not able to begin the Garden this semester, we will proceed with planning for the following season. We will fundraise, raise awareness, and prepare the grounds (i.e. remove shrubs, trees, roots, etc.). 

If our initiative proves unsuccessful, we will return the plot to its original state, return remaining funds, and donate tools to the Botanic Garden or the Northampton Community Gardens. 

SPECIFICS

Smith College has a colorful heritage of food gardening, dating back to the Capen and Neilson Victory gardens. Smithies who worked in the Capen Victory Garden were “doing their part” to address and relieve food shortages. We believe the tradition of the Victory garden needs reviving, as a patriotic and proactive avenue for current Smith students to “do their part” in the fight against global climate change.

We believe the garden will be both a philosophically and physically beautiful addition to our campus. Students designing and working on the garden will make it a priority to uphold the standards of aesthetics that make our campus such an attractive place to live. We will choose plant varieties that will be both utilitarian and decorative: for example, edible ornamentals. Also, attractive fencing will be constructed to keep out pests and predators. The garden will seek to maintain the beauty of the landscape by respecting the campus “sacred spaces”.

After much research and advising, we feel that this garden would be most at home in the bed behind the office building at 10 Prospect Street. This location is sheltered but not removed. By placing the garden in a relatively central space on Smith campus, we will increase visibility and the potential for real community-wide involvement. This will help ensure the continued success of the project.

Organization is central to the Garden's success. To insure organization, the garden will be managed and operated by a core group of students, the Community Garden Committee. We will be responsible for the organization of the garden: 

• Engaging individuals and campus organizations in volunteering 
• Collaborating with faculty on academic connections 
• Fundraising, applying for grants and internship opportunities for the pilot year 
• Creating an online blog 
• Devising and distributing monthly newsletters to the community 
• Planning events 
• And educating ourselves through work with local farmers and local resources 

This Committee is currently led by nearly a dozen students and supported by over three hundred students who signed a petition expressing interest in a Smith Community Garden. In order to engage the community, the Committee will host work parties and workshops to sustain student interest in the garden and to teach students gardening skills. Workshops ideas include:

• Germinating seedlings
• Transplanting
• Harvesting
• Preserving
• And more…

We will also engage students in fieldtrips to local farms, such as:

• Seeds of Solidarity in North Quabin 
• Hampshire farm and CSA
• Montview farms in Waitleigh

Many members of this Committee are already well versed in sustainable methods of agriculture. Our experiences include living and working on organic farms in Canada, designing a high school course on Sustainable Agriculture, and taking classes such as ‘Agriculture, Ecology, and Society’, ‘Organic Farming and Gardening’, 'Issues in Landscape Studies', 'Horticulture' and ‘Feminism and the Fate of the Planet’. Several faculty members have shown interest in becoming involved with the Community Garden. Faculty will be welcomed to join the Committee or to participate recreationally. However, the project will not be dependent on faculty advisors. 

We understand that the New England growing season is short and clashes with the academic calendar. Therefore, we plan to make the best our season by planting late-harvesting crops such as root vegetables and squash, by germinating to protect new seedlings during the unpredictable New England Spring, and by using cold frames and row covers to extend greens production to November. The construction of cold frames could be incorporated into Architecture and Engineering courses in order to give students hands-on experience in designing and erecting such structures. Crops we harvest, both during the summer and the fall semester, will be stored and prepared for the Harvest Dinner at the end of October. 

Its function as a utilitarian experiment in community-involved sustainability will make the Smith Community Garden distinct from its counterpart, the Botanic Garden. The community garden will be uniquely suited to teach on subjects relating to sustainable food production and to be volunteer-based. The garden will seek to respect the autonomy of the Botanic Garden by demonstrating that it can exist independently. Unless offered, we will not use the staff, funding, or resources allocated to the Botanic Garden.

Also, it is becoming increasingly apparent that food gardening is not solely suited to agricultural schools. Schools of Smith’s caliber are recognizing the relevance of the community garden and have are successfully integrating it into college life; Yale, Mt. Holyoke, Bowdoin, Dickinson and others have all created flourishing community gardens on campus.

It would not work to use already existing gardens such as the Northampton Community Garden or the Food Bank Farm—if the Garden is part of the Smith campus, students and faculty will have priority access to its plot. We don’t have this assurance at the Northampton Community Garden or at the Burt’s Pit site.

Thank you for reading our proposal. If you have any questions or comments, please post a response or email us at smithgarden@gmail.com.