Wondering what’s been under way on the grassy plot of land in front of Lowell House during the past couple of weeks? Last weekend we got our answer when the Harvard Community Garden was unveiled as part of the University’s Earth Day festivities. Meant as a hands-on classroom as well as a fully functioning garden, this project is yet another encouraging demonstration of our campus’ commitment to sustainability.
Arguably the most tangible of Harvard’s environmental initiatives, the garden’s mere presence will serve to raise awareness about how the food we eat relates to the planet we inhabit. But, more than that, the garden will also provide students with the opportunity to engage with sustainable farming and gardening firsthand. Two interns have already been selected to tend to and promote the garden this summer—an excellent learning experience that goes beyond Harvard’s previous offerings. We appreciate that the garden now provides Harvard with a resource for students interested in pursuing sustainable agriculture as a career—an unfortunately neglected field at one of the country’s most ambitious universities.
The collaborative nature of the Harvard Community Garden proves just as encouraging. A long-awaited initiative, the project finally became a reality this month thanks to the joint efforts of the Environmental Action Committee, the Office for Sustainability, the Food Literacy Project, and others. It is heartening to see both students and administrators working toward the same goal—and such a positive one at that. We hope that the Harvard Community Garden is only the first example of the fruit such partnerships can bear.
Indeed, there is reason to believe that the garden will be the start of better things to come. Although criticized by some Not In My Backyard naysayers, the garden’s central location is actually perfect for achieving its mission. Among other benefits, its visibility will lend legitimacy to the garden in the same way that other student groups’ social spaces do. The garden may seem out of place now, but in time—like the final clubs, Harvard Lampoon, and Harvard Hillel that surround the plot of land—it will help to establish environmental groups as fixtures of the Harvard landscape. This will sow the seeds for a future in which sustainability is front and center in students’ daily lives.
In the meantime, we encourage undergraduates who might be curious about the garden to participate. Living up to its name, the Harvard Community Garden will organize “community workdays” for anyone to come get his or her hands dirty. This opportunity for involvement is central to the garden’s success, since it can reach its laudable goal only if it succeeds in growing Harvard’s population of environmentally conscious individuals along with the arugula and chard.
The Harvard Community Garden offers much reason for optimism. The sustainability movement has already taken root at Harvard; with the garden—and further initiatives that the project will inspire—we hope it will continue to blossom.