From Xochiquetzal Salazar,
Summer Garden Crew Member 2015
With July setting in and summer 2015 flying by, the 5 beautiful permaculture gardens on campus are in full swing! There is plenty for our rocking crew to do this season, and we are quite the busy bees. Our group of 7 UMass students and alumni, with backgrounds from various disciplines, are working hard to maintain the highly productive outdoor classrooms that color the campus community.
It’s crazy to think that the days of strawberry picking in 2015 have already come and gone for our garden, but the bounty was plentiful from May to June! Harvests got up to 25 pounds in peak season, prepared into yummy creations at the UClub while the Dining Commons were closed. Us crew members got to take home some of these delicious summer treats too (one of the many perks of our awesome job, and a cool ethic of permaculture dubbed “Fair Share”). Our own crew member Hannah Hausman hosted a strawberry-themed community potluck at her home in Amherst featuring the tasty strawberries from the Franklin Garden. You can check out her weekly blog to learn more by following this link:
Even though strawberry season is at its tail-end, so many more perennial fruits are just ripening in the gardens. Currants, blueberries, and raspberries are all looking juicy and ready for picking any day now, and we can’t wait. But waiting for fruit to ripen isn’t all the crew has been up to.
Along with Lilly, our professional garden manager, the crew invites various groups to tour the gardens all summer long. Some of our highlight tours this summer included a visit from students of Amherst-Pelham Regional Middle School, as well as a presentation for the participants of the 2015
Chef Culinary Conference.
During the Chef Conference, the crew was also given the opportunity to attend “A Conversation with Mark Bittman,” renowned author and journalist for the New York Times, at the Campus Center on June 9th. To demonstrate the appreciation of the entire Auxiliary Services team, we put together a gift basket for Mr. Bittman bursting with garden goodies, presented to him at a UClub luncheon featuring delicious produce from our harvest.
We’re hoping for our annual harvest at Franklin Garden to reach about 2,000 pounds this year, and it seems like we are off to a good start. Plenty of peas, carrots, herbs, greens, beets, and kale have made their way to the mouths of happy folks. I personally can’t wait for the hot peppers to make their way to my plate!
One of my favorite parts of being a part of the UMass Permaculture Garden Crew is that it involves so much more than picking and planting. This summer we have been creating many additions to our gardens. At the Hillside Garden, the crew constructed, stained, and erected a huge, gorgeous gourd trellis for traditional Asian gourds. It was really empowering to build something collectively that the entire crew had a hand in.
The following week we put our muscle together to mortar the bricks in the herb spiral at the Franklin Garden, which was not only educational, but also super fun (not to mention messy). Herb spirals allow one to cultivate plants that need various levels of water drainage in a small area. In our ¼ acre plot, that’s pretty important!
I’m sure that July and August will bring us much more excitement in our growing gardens, and we have some pretty awesome things to look forward to on our agenda. Up next we are going to install a pond complete with aquatic plants! We are also expecting a special visit from the girls at Eureka!
One more thing; we’ve been drying plenty of herbs to sell to the public once the Fall Semester rolls around. Find us at the Student Farmer’s Market every Friday from 12 pm – 4 pm on the Goodell Lawn.
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