Year End Report 2009-2010

The Good Food Project
Year End Report and Mission Statement
For Spring, Summer and Fall 2010

Edited by Ben R. Dair ’11
The Garden in Spring

During the spring semester of 2010, Ben Dair and Jesse Marshall co-managed the garden at the corner of Cedar and Elm. A number of physical improvements greatly boosted both the area and productivity of the garden.

The construction of a sturdy bamboo-and-mesh fence prevented animals from munching on our seedlings and transplants, enabling safe photosynthesis for the entire growing season.
We successfully elevated kale and spinach plants by building raised beds from recycled shipping pallets in the medium-sized plot occupied by perennial raspberries, strawberries and asparagus.
One small bed inherited from Learning for Life added another 30% of growing space for pole beans and squash.
Having been asked to care for the President’s Kitchen Garden, we planted tomatoes and peppers.

A number of all-campus events boosted the social impact of the Good Food Project. Our new grill that allowed us to feed our hungry gardeners was a big hit with new volunteers.

The Planting Parlor Party in March has become a tradition where students bring cups and soda bottles to transform into mini-planters to bring back to their dorm rooms. The number of seedlings returned from the event was quite impressive.
During the Parents’ Weekend Gardening Party, the careful use of a rototiller shredded sod expand to the large bed by about one-third. This new soil supported kale and chard, cucumbers and basil.

The greenhouse space so generously shared with us in the new Wister Center is a major benefit for the Good Food Project as it allows us to start seedlings in a consistently managed environment. The success of our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash plants are a testament to the usefulness of the greenhouse space.

Tables and Figures:

Seed Savers’ Exchange Order List 2010
Planting Map with Bed Dimensions

The Garden in Summer

Between June and September, Nick Vogt, Eric Burger and Camille Robertson co-managed the garden.

Five to ten people on average attended biweekly gardening work days.
Managers watered two hours a day, six days a week.
All the hoses that sprung leaks were fixed.
Weeding and fence repair required a majority of attention.

The garden also saw a number of planting days with the establishment of new transplants.

Radishes and carrots moved to the raised beds.
Melons in the ‘Perrenials Plot.’
Garlic in the ‘Large Plot.’
Squash, pumpkins and beans in the small ‘Learning for Life Plot.’

The summer months also see the most plant productivity and the students doing research at the College were the primary beneficiaries of most harvests.

Raspberries and strawberries ripened.
Garlic finished maturing and was dried.
Lettuce produced constantly.

The Garden in Fall

During the autumn months the garden was co-managed by Ben Dair and Marjorie Herbert. As the growing season wanes in productivity, the Fall is a time to celebrate summer yields and organize the community to appreciate local food and local harvest.

Tools were relocated from the President’s Garage to 404 Elm.
Garden managers watered for an hour each day.
We raised $120 from selling saved seeds at the Swarthmore Local Food Fair in October and donated the funds to the Chester Community Garden Project. This money was subsequently used to rent a turf cutter to expand the beds located in a community owned by the Chester Housing Authority.
In a large October garden party, we entertained over thirty people with roasted squash and okra, fresh tomatoes and cabbage salad, and a packout from Sharples Dining Hall. The Cooper Event featured speakers the Yes Men were in attendance.

We also organized a series of community cooking dinners where we enjoyed basil pesto, squash, arugula, kale, turnip greens and okra.
Other Projects and Notable Events

Over 50 people attended our first weekly kick-off meeting. Since then, the core group of meeting attendees that we can count on to volunteer at all events remains stable at about 15 people.

The Window Farms hydroponics project in the Science Center Commons continues to draw interest and was the subject of a Learning for Life workshop led by E. Carr Everbach.

Composting in Essie Mae’s doubled following a change in bin location and signage. A collaboration with the student group Green Advisors has also increased composting service coverage by placing buckets in the dormitories.

Notable Events Include:
Kallari – Sustainable Cocoa Plantation Presentation / Chocolate Tasting
Cooper Event: Greening the Rust Belt: Urban Agriculture and Food Security in Detroit and Philadelphia (Oct. 28)
Compost Facility Tour (Nov. 12)
Meat Day (Nov. 16th)
Sharples Dining Hall Local Foods night

For the original PDF, see:



Planting Parlor party 3/25/2011

Our parlor party was a smashing success – with many dozens of seeds planted and over an hour of excited socializing. Many thanks to SAC for funding the event. Check out our photostream for pictures!

Institutional Memory

This day in history: the Good Food Project contemplates institutional memory.

Garden managers need to make a calendar and keep yearly running notes on how garden parties, planting and greenhouse work goes. Look for a post soon on our spring calendar!

Summer Gardening Recap

I, Camille, have enjoyed being on campus to cultivate and eat the produce from our  Cedar and Elm garden this summer. For those of you who don’t know, Nick and I took over as garden managers after Eric left for Australia. We had a dedicated, if small, gang of gardeners, and passed many pleasant Tuesday and Thursday evenings caring for our charges. We kept busy keeping track of climbing pole beans, ripening delectable peach tomatoes, and curious prickly okra, and busy keeping up with trellising out of control tomatoes, planting and thinning new seedlings, harvesting, repairing the fence, fighting the ever infringing creeping charlie, etc.

With sincere apologies for not being a more consistent blogger over the summer, a few photos and highlights to reflect on a wonderful summer:

More photos loaded to the flickr page!

– We feasted on fig tomatoes, purple cherokee tomatoes, peach tomatoes, kale, swiss chard, winter squash (which stopped rotting and grew better once we stopped watering it), okra, arugula sprouts (where the arugula went to seed and spawned a green carpet), strawberries, a handful of raspberries, some stubby carrots, semi-trellised snap and sugar peas, trellised but low-producing purple podded pole beans and yellow beans, and probably a couple other things I’ve forgotten.

– We ate a lot of lettuce from the garden and hydroponic window farm. A LOT of lettuce. And shared with friends and the Scott Arboretum volunteers and the Grounds Department gardeners and ML kids when we couldn’t eat any more lettuce.

– We picked and prepared 4 beautiful garlic braids.

– We delivered a large basket of kale, chard, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, and one turnip to President Chopp as a welcome home from Prague gift and granted her permission to enjoy the produce from our garden if she ever wants to come over and  pick.

– We sold many pounds of radishes, cucumbers, Purple Cherokee tomatoes, and okra to the Swarthmore Co-op: received $50 and three bars of chocolate in return; may have a group picture featured on their website as one of their suppliers?

– We donated one backpack full of cucumbers and tomatoes to the Chester Co-op (and accepted return gift of a few backpack-friendly ears of corn and oranges).

– We cut (with permission) and used falling-over bamboo from the bamboo grove for never-ending tomato trellising and fence repairs.

– We attained (thanks, Alice Evans!) the keys to the awesome Learning for Life bench, where we can now store hand tools, gloves, and seed packets.

– And we planted a bunch more beds for fall harvesting!

Since I left Swarthmore two weeks ago, Ben Degolia has generously and skillfully stepped in as temporary garden manager. He says the garden is doing great, and that our first mature melon was successfully harvested and enjoyed!

Window Farm will soon have new plants

Anybody who has recently walked by our Window Farm in the Science Center Commons has probably noticed that the plants are gone and the system is empty.  But do not worry!  The Window Farm will soon have a new and diverse mix of plants.  The lettuce mix that was previously growing in the bottles simply was getting old, and so it was time to remove it.  We’ve planted some seeds into Grodan cubes (basically a spongey starter cube for seeds) that will soon sprout into cherry tomatoes, red and green lettuce, peas, marigolds, zinnias, and nasturtiums.

Summer garden update! (finally…)

So we finally remembered to bring a camera to the garden last Tuesday, and that means a photo update of what we’ve been up to in the garden!

Check out our flickr photostream for the pictures!

The garden has really started to take off in the past couple of weeks (thanks to the rain we finally got this past week).  We’ve got more cucumbers than we can handle, and in a week or so our tomatoes will be ready to start harvesting.  The kale, swiss chard and lettuce have been steady producers for us, and the okra, beans, and squash are just about ready to harvest too.  Stay tuned for more updates!

May in the Garden, a snapshot on the day of Graduation.

Coming back to Swat for a long weekend before my work in NH began, I snapped these excellent shots of the growing garden. Our tomato city is growing wonderfully. Note how the rain barrel is drip irrigating the bean sprouts and the squash starts. Our raspberries are out of control. Staking technique recommended?