Spades in one hand and bulbs in the other, freshmen volunteers worked alongside Harvard Yard Operations, Landscape Services, and Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 to beautify the Lionel and Mower courtyard on Friday afternoon.
All freshmen received an email encouraging them to participate in the program, which was geared not only toward making the secluded space behind the Yard more aesthetically pleasing, but also toward giving freshmen a chance to meet their dean in a low-key setting.
Dingman set the tone by digging daylilies side-by-side with students—all dressed in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers—casually chatting about freshman life.
“We send out the email to offer opportunities for freshman to make a difference, as it is not always clear for students to know how to get involved,” Dingman said.
Mark C. Muniz, an arborist for Landscape Services, directed the location of each plant based on a careful calculation of sunlight and soil conditions. “I enjoy working with students who take an interest in this,” he said.
Some students attended because of a prior penchant for gardening. “I have done this kind of work before, so I already knew it was going to be fun,” said Harry W. Hild ’16.
But gardening experience was not a prerequisite to join in on the sunny day activity. Many students who did not respond to the email walked up to volunteer on the spot.
Some students living in Lionel and Mower saw the happenings outside their windows and came to help. Gillian L. Slee ’16, a resident of Lionel, said, “It’s important to keep our section of the Yard pretty, and it’s such a beautiful day to be out here.”
The attendees also learned about eco-friendly gardening from Paul Smith, an associate manager of Landscape Services who has worked for the last few years to eliminate chemicals in the Yard. He told the students that Harvard uses no pesticides in its gardening.
“The process starts from the top down, and the leadership has really supported us in our efforts to go green,” he said.
Hild said he hoped for more opportunities to help with Harvard’s gardening. “The program should be expanded,” he said. “It helps for us to identify with our own yard and leave a lasting touch.”