La Cultivates Arcadia's Garden and Community Participation

June 2, 2011 Sarah Schwartz

Art History major Dao La ’13 isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty when it comes to Arcadia’s green initiatives. She personally wrote and designed a guide to help the campus and greater community care for and benefit from Arcadia’s vegetable garden. (Get the garden  guide.)

In spring 2010 the garden was created by a group of students interested in growing and harvesting organic produce on campus. It provides an opportunity for volunteers to learn about gardening, as some have never picked up a trowel and others are experienced gardeners. When it came time for garden originator Lynn Sipsey to graduate, La, along with Jenny Clay and Kelsey Eggert, stepped up to the plate.

“Arcadia's green initiatives are very important,” says La. “We're all working really hard to maintain the garden and hopefully it can become something big in the near future. The world is changing as we know it and even though we can't see the changes here, it's taking its toll in other places of the earth. Each step that Arcadia takes with becoming greener makes all the difference.”

It didn’t take long for the garden to peak local interest. Transition Town Cheltenham (TCC), a group of neighbors committed to building a healthy, sustainable community, called to get involved. So, this summer, Arcadia will work with volunteers from TTC on collaborative food projects using the University’s garden and the greenhouses, benefiting the local community.

With the help of fellow volunteer Clay, La created a plan for Arcadia students, staff and faculty as well as Cheltenham residents understand how to care for the garden. La garden guide was created to help. La went above and beyond, volunteering to research, write and design Arcadia’s Community Garden Guide 2011. It includes the garden layout, and a brief description about each plant as well as instructions on how to tend it.

“For the time being, our garden is small but we're hoping that we can get enough awareness about our garden that it can become bigger in time,” says La. “There have been other universities that started off with small plots for a garden that became huge farms in the end, I'm hoping that our community garden can become just as big.”

Students and community members are encouraged to participate now and over the summer. For more information, visit Arcadia’s Harvest blog.

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