Blooming knowledge

The college and community garden, now in its third year, is a spot of color among trees and well-trimmed grass, a world away from the nearby soccer fields. The quarter-acre plot is ringed with young apple trees and raspberry bushes, and early this fall was filled with tomatoes, squash, beans, and even a few melons.

This summer the garden was a second home for Ellen Wrede, a senior from Cedar Falls, Iowa. She was hired by the college’s Students in Free Enterprise club to be the college and community gardener. She planted, then spent the summer weeding and watering—it was one of the worst droughts in nearly 100 years.

The garden, which uses no herbicides or pesticides, is sustainable in the environmental sense, but because it also sells some of its produce to Cornell’s dining service, the plan is to make it sustainable in the economic sense, as well. There’s a good will component, but it needs to turn enough profit to buy seeds for the next year. So far, Bon Appétit has served tomatoes and beans grown in the college garden.

There’s another mission as well: to show people how they, too, can garden.

“It’s a really big teaching and learning garden,” Wrede said. “It’s a place for people to grow things and to grow their knowledge.”

And in addition to the teaching aspect, she enjoys the work itself.

“It’s really hard work, but it’s really rewarding work,” she said. “It’s so cool to see something so small increase tenfold.”

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