July 27, 2009
Students at St. John’s University recently broke ground on
the Queens campus for a student community organic garden. The
carefully planned 34 x 54 ft. site is the latest Sustainability
project at St. John’s and represents another step in the
University’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions released into
Located behind Donovan Hall and beyond the left-field fence of the
softball field, the site now consists of five large, 7 X 24 ft.
planting beds separated by grass walkways. The entire garden will
be bordered by a 12 in.-wide planting bed and a 5 ft.-high wire
fence, which will support plant growth, discourage damage to
sprawling plants and add interest and shape to the patch. A
cedar-wood arbor with a picket fence gate will welcome all who
visit the new garden.
A Little Help from
The garden’s location was selected by William Bernor, Facilities’
Director of Grounds, who took into account site drainage, sun
exposure and tranquility of the area. Julia Corwin from the Queens Botanical
Garden and Luke Halligan from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden also walked
the site and offered professional advice to the student
Graduate students Shweta Jamdade and Ivelin Danailov Spasov
researched organic gardens and drafted the Organic Garden Plan.
Much of the heavy work was completed by Student Sustainability
Coordinators Ashwin Kelwalkar, Ivaylo Spasov Dimitrov, Gabriela
Papadopulos and Kristina Miltcheva, under the direction of Thomas
Goldsmith, the University’s Director of Energy and Environmental
Earth Club students have been busy producing compost—the backbone
of organic gardening—for the garden from food discarded in the
various campus dining areas. The food scraps are fed into the
University’s Rocket® Composter, and in a short time become
fertilizer for the new garden rather than waste shipped to a
Student Earth Club President Is
Earth Club President Ashley Brown, who is in her fourth-year at St.
John’s, can’t stop smiling. She reports that “there will be plenty
of student involvement for planting and maintaining the garden,”
which promises to be a gathering place for students with an
interest in organic gardening or others just feeling the need to
visit with Mother Earth.
The University’s Sustainability Committee is planning to host a
“planting event” when construction of the garden is completed. That
event is currently scheduled for August 18th.