Dickinson College, PA Student Garden Program

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Dickinson College, PA, US

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Type: Program

Status: Launched in 1999

Source File: http://alpha.dickinson.edu/storg/sisa/history.html


Two environmental Studies majors initiated the Student Garden at Dickinson College in 1999. Their interest in researching sustainable agriculture and organic gardening was cultivated on a small plot of land donated by the college. As more and more students began to get involved with the Student Garden the Environmental Science department sought a way to ensure its longevity.

In 2000, the Environmental Studies department was awarded a three year Innovation Grant by Dickinson College. The students involved with the Student Garden at that time worked towards expanding the garden and started selling organically grown vegetables at the local farmers market. The number of students interested in the garden grew and the club Students Interested in Sustainable Agriculture was formed. Students came together to work, discuss issues pertaining to sustainable agriculture, initiate course-related research projects, and to share the seasons harvest.

By 2002, the Environmental Studies Department hired a part-time director for the Student Garden and the Student Garden program was underway. In addition to daily gardening work, students are involved with community outreach projects, field trips to local farms, hosting educational workshops relating to food and food production, as well as research projects. The Student Garden currently employs an average of seven students during the academic school year. Each student has the opportunity to put in ten hours of work a week.

The responsibilities of a student gardener varies from day to day. Crops that are in season, current community outreach projects, the weather, and food bank donations help to determine what the student will be doing. Typically students work three days a week, working around their academic schedule.

During the summer months, the Student Garden hires full-time student employees to manage the garden during its peak growing season. These students sell garden produce at the local farmers' market and College Dining Hall in addition to working on community service projects, and engaging in educational workshops and field trips. While growing food is a large focus of the Student Garden, community service work is another large focus. Close collaboration with local food bank, Project S.H.A.R.E has earned the garden a significant role with connecting food bank recipients with fresh produce. The academic component to the garden is growing as more and more students, faculty and staff begin to recognize and incorporate coursework and research that involves the garden. As a living laboratory, the Student Garden provides the College with endless possibilities for academic interests!

The 2008-2009 Farm Goals

  • Expand vegetable production from 1.5 acres to 4 acres.
  • Increase produce sales to Dickinson College Dining Services.
  • Increase CSA size to 25 members.
  • Maintain and develop the student internship program at the Farm.
  • Begin preliminary work for establishing perennial fruit production on the Farm.
  • Develop and streamline produce production in the lower level of the barn.
  • Continue to support academic interests in the Farm through course support, field trips, extracurricular activities, etc.
  • Collaborate with the Art Department to establish a small art gallery in the upper level of the barn.
  • Continue programmatic relationship with the Cumberland County Juvenile Probation Office and the Cumberland Perry Association for Retarded Citizens (CPARC)
  • Continue collaborative work with Project SHARE and increase weekly produce donations to the food bank.
  • Lease summer season vendor space at the Carlisle Central Farmers' market (CCFM)
  • Host fall banquet dinner at the farm for Dickinson College Trustees
  • Pursue possible grant funding opportunities to increase the efficiency and visibility of the farm.
  • Utilize space in newly constructed and grant-funded greenhouse to extend the growing season for produce sales to the College Dining Hall.
  • Install solar shower space for educational and practical uses.
  • Fine tune new grant-funded solar power irrigation system using the farm pond and water storage tanks.