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Sprout garden to get higher profile

07/5/2012

 Azul Tellez '15 and Zoe Lynch '15 maintain the current Sprout garden (above) while helping establish the new one.

Azul Tellez '15 and Zoe Lynch '15 maintain the current Sprout garden (above) while helping establish the new one.

Connecticut College's Sprout Garden, currently tucked behind 360 Apartments, will soon get a prominent new home on campus. The garden, established in its original location in 2005 as a sustainable organic garden initiative, will be moved to the open field directly behind the College Center at Crozier-Williams, taking up roughly one-third of the unused grassy area. The new garden will cover about 10,000 square feet, 3,000 of which will be plantable, and will feature 24 to 30 raised beds, a 20-by-40-foot hoop greenhouse, space for in-ground planting and seating. Josh Stoffel, sustainability coordinator for the College, is hopeful that the move will begin in early July. "We are certainly ready to get out there," Stoffel said. "We're working through some logistical challenges, and the move will happen as soon as possible." Stoffel said the first steps of the move will be to install a fence, purchase and paint a new shed, and get started on the raised beds for the garden - all projects that are scheduled for completion by the end of the summer. At the start of the fall semester, student workers will help fill the beds and construct the hoop house, ensuring that the garden is fully ready for the 2013 spring planting season. The inclusion of the hoop greenhouse will also allow the Sprout garden to extend its growing season. This summer, two students are working to maintain the current garden while preparing for the big move. Zoe Lynch '15 and Azul Tellez '15 have spent the first few weeks of summer clearing out the existing garden to make way for new plants. They have planted a variety of crops, including cucumbers, kale, beans, squash, zucchini, peppers and herbs. Although many of the crops are already beginning to flourish, some characteristics of the garden's current location pose challenges for the workers. "This garden actually has a lot of invasive species, like knotweed, that make it more difficult to grow crops well," Lynch explained. "Although it's Sprout's goal to sell crops to Harris to be served to students, we haven't been extremely successful in the past few years because of the issues with the garden. The move to the new location should improve things a lot, as we will have better quality soil, fewer weeds and more sun." Additionally, the garden's move to a more visible location on campus will make it an important feature on admission tours, demonstrating the College's commitment to a green campus and attracting prospective students who are interested in sustainability and food issues. The change to a more prominent spot is also predicted to increase student involvement with Sprout and will create opportunities for paid student positions in the new garden. The old garden will not disappear completely. Stoffel hopes that the original area can be maintained and used to grow blueberries, raspberries and other seasonal plants. Funds for the garden's move and ongoing operations have been provided by the Bennack-Polan Foundation, a foundation set up by trustee emeritus Mary Lake Polan '65 and her husband Frank Bennack; the Student Sustainability Grant Program (see related story); President Higdon's Planning and Program Development Fund; and the Office of College Relations.



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