Cornell’s college and community garden

For the past three years, the Cornell College chapter of Students in Free Enterprise has funded a college and community garden.

The garden, which covers a quarter acre near the college’s soccer practice field and facility services center, is home to 20 young apple trees, heirloom tomato plants and much more. During the summer of 2012 senior Ellen Wrede served as the gardener, working to increase awareness of organic gardening, as well as growing food for the community.


The Community Garden initiative was the brainchild of Cornell student Kayla Prestel ’12, who developed and proposed the project in an entrepreneurship class in 2010.  Over the past two years, other students have also joined the task of caring for and managing the garden, recently relocated from its original site to a bright, comely corner of the soccer fields adjacent to New Hall.

The garden is fully student run.  In the future, the  staff gardeners hope to take on several more regular employees and are looking to create a residential group dedicated to sustainability, healthy living, and serving the local community through the garden.

Produce harvested from the garden is generally sold to the local community or available to students and community members who volunteer in the garden. Some produce will go to Bon Appétit, Cornell’s new dining service provider,  while waste produced in the cafeteria will be used for compost.

The community garden will supply some food to Bon Appétit, as well as to community members.

These and other efforts, such as the cultivation of herbs and spices and the leasing of community plots, are all steps towards the complete self-sufficiency the garden staff hope to achieve in the years to come, with the revenue from their produce sales going directly to fund the garden and pay its employees.

Wrede, who was involved with the garden before becoming its caretaker this summer, called working in the garden a process of discovery, and one that yields a tangible end product.

“Of course, input is necessary, but through working with your hands, you get to see results,” she said. “It’s a result-heavy venture.”

According to Wrede, another of the primary goals for the garden is to make it a “gardening education hub” for the community, who are readily welcomed to come and learn more about sustainable agriculture and living.

Gerin Eaton ’15 contributed to this post.

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