Skidmore Community Garden

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More wonderful news…the shed is in place!
Take a look outside of Wiecking Hall.

More wonderful news…the shed is in place!

Take a look outside of Wiecking Hall.

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If you haven’t noticed (and that would be hard to believe) spring HAS SPRUNG! Amazing things are happening for the Skidmore Student Garden. Plants are sprouting, the garden plans were APPROVED, and the weather could not be more beautiful! Items of note:

1. There will be work party announcements circulating soon - Come help till before the fence gets here!

2. Beats for Beets was fantastic, as was Earth Day.

3. There will be a large and beautiful garden outside of Wiecking Hall in the future - so get ready!

Enjoy the weather, everyone. 

PS. Also enjoy all the pictures of the babies sprouting up! 

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The proposal for the Garden is almost finished! 
And in other news….

BEATS FOR BEETS! We have a date! 
Beats for Beets will be happening on March 27th at Falstaff’s!

Mark your calendars, friends. More info to come.

The proposal for the Garden is almost finished!
And in other news….

BEATS FOR BEETS! We have a date!
Beats for Beets will be happening on March 27th at Falstaff’s!

Mark your calendars, friends. More info to come.

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Happy Monday!

At Sunday’s garden meeting, the group split up to tackle the various tasks on the agenda. Such tasks included: sketch of the site, seed orders, budget planning and composing the written proposal for the garden. Though it’s cold and snowy outside, plans are moving along nicely for the new community garden.

Check out the site of the new garden above, in all its snowy glory.

Everyday we’re a little closer to Spring!

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The Skidmore Community Garden finally has a new location! The new garden will be found right outside Wiecking Hall on the green. The location is both central and prime and we couldn’t be more excited to get started. Plans are underway! At today’s weekly meeting, members are working to both choose and order seeds and draw out possible layouts for the garden.

More updates to come!

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November 12th marked a day of history-in –the-making for the students of the American Taste Seminar! For the first time ever in Skidmore College’s history, these lucky students were able to cook and present a global dinner to President Glotzbach at the Lucy Scribner House. First on the menu was Poutine, a dish native to Canada, as well as Latino Tamales. These appetizers share their richness in flavor only, as their history and origins could not be more different. Traced back to Aztec, Incan, and Mayan cuisine, the nature of tamales has evolved over thousands of years. In contrast, Poutine is a contemporary comfort food that is rumored to have been created only fifty years ago when a customer wanted cheese curds added to his fries and gravy at a snack shop in Quebec.
Panzanella, a traditional bread, tomato, and onion salad eaten by peasants in Tuscany, was next on the menu. Noted for its numerous ingredients, this bread salad incorporated leftovers and stale items deliciously—a great advantage when food was unavailable or inaccessible to peasants. After mass Italian immigration into America took place, cultural assimilation occurred while their foodways remained the same. Italian women regarded their traditional means of cooking as part of their livelihood, which is why the original recipe for Panzenella is most popular in America today. Together, Ceanna and Julia, teamed up to bake Naan, a flatbread from India and Afghanistan. Renowned for its buttery flavor and soft, doughy quality, Naan has become much more mainstream in America. Usually a type of bread served during a special occasion in India, Naan is now the typical bread served in most Indian restaurants in America.
For the dinner course, the students decided to serve a vegetarian and shrimp version of the stir-fried noodle dish, Pad Thai. In Thailand, Pad Thai is a casual dish served primarily in casual restaurants or street fairs. After the Vietnam War, many people of Asian descent immigrated to America, bringing their culture and food, like Pad Thai. Today, Pad Thai is a staple of Asian cuisine in America. Due to its growing popularity, Pad Thai was featured as the fifth most enjoyable dish on the 2011 list of the World’s 50 most delicious foods according to CNN. For dessert, the students made Baklava, a Middle Eastern delicacy. In the Middle East, Baklava is a demonstration of wealth since only kings could eat it during the eighth century. When the migrant laborers brought their foodways to America, baklava was no longer a dessert of the elite and became accessible to all.
While sampling the dishes, President Glotzbach asked the group what their favorite aspect of Skidmore was. One person appropriately responded, “the dining hall” without hesitation. Skidmore has gone to great lengths to provide its students with choice and variety in regards to food, especially in the Global Café of the dining hall. As students are introduced to other culture’s foods, Skidmore successfully brings a little piece of home to international students while educating others about the unique cultures of the world. All in all, the dinner was a great success! One student even said “it was a unique and awesome experience to be able to say that I cooked dinner for the President in my freshman year, and the class bonded over the ethnic flavors!”

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Quick Update

At our meeting today we discussed the two locations that we are proposing to the administration and created these two pro and con lists. Also, since our proposal will probably will not be passed in the next week we will be unable to sheet mulch before winter break and may have to purchase soil in the spring instead (which is more expensive than mulching).

Behind the tennis court location
Pros-easy to design, space is pretty, potential for expansion, may include small pond, terracing, no tampering, access road, and conventional Skidmore shape (linear and square)
Cons- Farther, neighbors may be concerned, not marketable for admissions, harder to gain interest, property line confusion/zoning, and less creative.

Other location
Pros-Ease of accessibility, visibility for marketing (along tour routes), increased awareness on campus, favored more by administration, and unique design.
Cons-more expensive, more likely to be tampered with, ground is very wet, no bond, run off from nearby parking lot, potentially higher in cost, and shaded areas.

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Slow Progress

Every Friday a group of dedicated Skid Kids have been meeting with Levi from the Sustainability office to discuss plans for the new Skidmore garden. Since October we have been going through periods of both huge progress and long periods of not being able to move forward until we recieve more information.
The first step, determining a location, was deemed a success. We have been scooping a location behind the tennis courts that is easily accessible yet semi-hidden that students would not invade it unnecessarily. I walked with economics/GIS professor Bob Jones out to the garden with his GPS to ensure that where we identified as our garden location was clearly within the property lines of the college. Soil samples have passed basic testing from the Skidmore lab, and are currently at the Columbia lab for further analysis. We were aiming to have the soil sheet mulched (a mixture of compost and mulch over the entire area of the garden) by this week, however, our plans have been stalled as we continue to seek out another possible location. This location has not been revealed or declared as the site of the new garden, so for now a lot of our action has been stalled.

In an effort to not loose too much of spring planting season trying to make decisions about planting, we are still going to move forward as best we can. We are working to design the garden so that it is truly a permaculture garden. We want to make sure that the companion plants are be used effectively, all beds are accessible through wide-enough pathways (most likely using a key-hole design), so that compost and water can be easily distributed throughout the garden (especially to water-loving crops like blueberries), integrating both annuals and perennials, and finally analyzing systems of natural pest control so that we can maintain our status as an organic garden and still produce large enough yields.

EAC met last night to reassess its standing of an SGA club. Our discussion mainly pinpointed one main area of attention that the club needs to focus on, which is to improve communication between the various branches of EAC so that everyone can feel informed and aware. By the end of the meeting we determined that once a month, EAC will host a larger meeting consisting of a representative from different initiatives such as Cool Cities, Real Food Challenge, the Sustainability Office, SuCo, the garden, etc. In addition to these larger meetings, EAC is going to rearrange into groups that correlate to smaller projects whose deadline is the end of the semester. This way there will be a sense of urgency in finishing projects so that the club can feel like it made a difference in sustainability efforts on campus. Some of these “campaigns” were establishing composting in all of the apartments, reviving the Take a Mug, Leave a Mug program, creating a Bathroom Reader, banning plastic bags and water bottles from campus stores, improving student awareness of environmental movements on campus, etc.

December will be a month of reestablishing goals and finally starting to put action to everything that has been discussed this semester so that when we all return in January we are ready to move forward.

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The Skidmore Garden’s Harvest Dinner was hosted on Sunday, November 3 in the Spa and it was a great success! Zia & I worked that weekend in the Spa kitchen with the Garden Committee preparing food for the dinner and it was great to have a behind the scenes look at the whole event. Some of the food that was served was stuffed peppers, butternut squash soup, vegetarian chili, kohlrabi fries (fried by Zia and yours truly), fresh salad with homemade dressing, and apple crisp. The line for the food was huge, and students didn’t hesitate to express their gratitude for the delicious (and free) meal we served.

In preparation for the dinner, Zia & I contacted local farms such as Kilpatrick Family Farm, Otrembiak Farm, and Battenkill Valley Farm to ask for donations of food for the dinner. On Saturday, November 2, the Garden Committee went to the Farmer’s Market downtown to pick up any leftover vegetables that these farms hadn’t sold, and the farms graciously gave them to us after we explained our Harvest Dinner. Battenkill Valley Farm supplied tubs of ice cream that we served with apple crisp and it was a huge hit. We were holding off serving the apple crisp for a while at the Dinner because we wanted to get rid of as much of the dinner food as possible, but people were asking about the apple crisp every 30 seconds (quite literally), so we brought it out earlier than expected. It was my personal favorite.

And then, at least 50 porcelain plates smashed on the floor! A stack had toppled over from the cart of dirty dishes and silverware, and scattering glass shards everywhere. But students jumped right in to help, which I thought was really nice. That helped to contribute to the comfortable and home-like atmosphere of that evening, with everyone pitching in to do their share, whether it was through cooking, cleaning, or just being there to support the Garden.

The Garden Committee had bags made that were sold at the dinner. The bags were made out of sustainable material, fitting in with the environmentally-friendly themes of the Student Garden.

In sum, the Harvest Dinner was nothing short of a success. It truly benefited everyone, from the farmers who got to contribute their vegetables and supplies to this great cause, to the Skidmore students who got to cook and enjoy a fantastic meal with their friends while donating to the future of the Skidmore Student Garden. Until next year!

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Garden Plans are Moving Forward

The Skidmore Student Garden club has been pretty busy over the past few weeks. We have met numerous times to discuss everything from the harvest dinner, to locations of the garden, to reviewing shed designs. Back tracking three weeks, student members met to discuss possible locations for the garden. We decided that the location behind the tennis courts was by far the best choice. It is easily accessible by either following the pathway to the gym and walking past the daycare center or by taking a beautiful footpath that is somewhat hidden by the foot bridge that many may recognize as the one they take to Broadway if they take the shortcut onto Fourth Street.

The garden will be located at the top of the hill and gradually flowing down the slight incline. The dimensions of the garden will be comparable to the garden that was located by the Colton House, or approximately 72 ft by 76 ft. After using GIS maps and meeting with Professor Robert Jones of the Economics and GIS departments, I discovered that the property line of Skidmore is right at the base of the hill (follows the tree line behind the gym).

Skidmore Facilities is building us a metal fence which will be five feet tall and extend approximately a foot underground to enclose our garden and prevent critters from digging under the fence. Unfortunately the fence will do very little for the massive amounts of squirrels that have invaded the Skidmore property. The fence will include two entrances: a main entrance near the gym that has an archway designed by a Skidmore student and another utility entrance near the driveway where compost, tools, and other supplies can easily come in and out of the garden. The compost pile will be set up just inside the utility entrance. An 8 x 8 shed is also going to be added to the design of the garden outside the fence in order to store tools, seeds, and provide a structure for a water collection system. Future plans for a small pond at the base of the garden, greenhouse, and thoughts for expansion are all being included in a long-term plan for the garden.

We are currently working on creating a story board and a final map that exactly lays out the plans for the garden. The timeline for approval is moving quickly as we are hoping to sheet mulch before the first full snow. Sheet mulching requires three steps: the first is laying down a layer of cardboard (from dining services) and then layering five to six inches of compost over the entire area from a combination of Skidmore Compost and a local compost business and then finally a layer of mulch. The garden will absorb these minerals for the winter and the soil will be ready for planting in the spring when it thaws.