Signs of fall are beginning to sweep in as dozens of students and volunteers gathered to harvest herbs and garden-vegetables in Western’s own back yard on Oct. 14. This summer was the first year of harvest at the permaculture garden located behind the science building at WCSU’s midtown campus.
Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Laurie Weinstein, started the permaculture garden three years ago as an initiative with the Jane Goodall Center. After three years of fundraising, winning approval and prepping the soil, the garden was finally ready for harvest September of this year.
“There’s a whole process of permaculture. First you weed, then you put down compost, then cardboard and then mulch. And then you let the ground set, and then you plant,” Weinstein explained as students and volunteers gathered around the garden to learn how to harvest.
A student majoring in social work enthusiastically demonstrated various methods for harvesting plants. Ashley Kenney is a food activist who spent the past decade teaching about GMOs, and encouraging people to eat and buy locally and seasonally.
“The interest is there because people do ask a lot of questions, but I think they don’t really get it. I think what professor Weinstein is doing is great because we are exposing people to where their food comes from,” said Kenney.
“I’m not a huge expert. It’s a huge passion of mine and it brings people together. That’s why they call it a community garden,” she added.
In preparation for the garden, Weinstein held design forums with students who wanted to help decide what plants to add to the landscape. As a result of the forums, the garden now has Native American corn, Native American beans, herbs, kales, brussels sprouts, berries, pear trees, and next year there will be squash.
The garden is partnered with Danbury Food Cooperative, which is overseen by United Way. One of the main goals is to provide locally grown food to organizations, on and off campus. Since the harvest began, most of the food was given to Sodexo. This harvest will be donated to Hillside Food Outreach.
The next Community Day will be held on Nov. 5 from 10 p.m. to noon. The public is invited to participate in activities such as cardboarding, composting and mulching the garden in preparation for the winter. Tools and snacks will be provided. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves and wear appropriate clothing.