Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mason Campus Garden Consortium

Last Thursday members from the three organic gardens on campus, the Mason Organic Garden, SoA Green Garden, and the Child Development Center Garden, met to discuss pooling their resources to strengthen sustainable gardening efforts on campus. The meeting was organized by the Office of Sustainability Project Specialist, Danielle Wyman, who also manages the Mason Organic Garden behind Potomac Heights Student Apartments. Attendees included Sustainability Coordinator Lenna Storm, AgriArt Professor Mark Cooley, Auxiliary Enterprises Project Manager Daniel Waxman, Child Development Center (CDC) Director Tina Morris, CDC Lead Teacher and Garden Operations Manager Dorothea Tyree, Mason Organic Garden members Amanda Wall, Cassondra Coleman, and Nya Jackson, and SoA Green Garden members Justin Raphael Roykovich, Vina Sananikone, and Liz Edwards.

One of the common concerns discussed among the three gardens was summer maintenance. Wyman noted that the
Mason Organic Garden struggled with finding enough volunteers to manage the garden over the summer and had to hire former Mason Organic Garden member, Yuka Taylor, to assist with daily maintenance. The SoA Green garden expressed similar concerns. “I was here last summer and managed the garden but all of the SoA Green leadership will be graduating making volunteer recruitment or sharing important” said Roykovich.

Lenna Storm, the Campus Sustainability Coordinator suggested “maintenance free summer planting”. If we can incorporate permaculture principles into the gardens it will minimize the daily maintenance and we won’t need as much volunteer labor which is difficult to find during the summer. Cooley agreed it was important to get more students involved in the gardens but believes there are shortcomings with the organizations created to manage the gardens.

Eventually the leaders of these groups graduate and there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to recruit more members. “We need to work the gardens into the curriculum” stated Cooley. Cooley also suggested following the community garden structure where members of the Mason community pay for plots during the summer and are responsible for maintaining the plots and entitled to the produce harvested. Wyman supported this idea saying a few Resident Advisors (RA’s) had expressed interest in garden plots. While no decision was made regarding summer garden maintenance the discussion did get the group thinking ahead about summer plans.

The group also discussed sharing funding among the three gardens. In April the Mason Organic Garden received a $5,000 grant from Transurban-Fluor which expired November 1st. Wyman expressed the difficulty she expressed with spending the grant. “It’s hard when you’re used to operating with no money and then you have $5,000 to spend. $5,000 is a lot for one garden.” said Wyman. SoA Green was more than happy to help with spending money. “We don’t have any money. We can definitely use some” said Sananikone. The CDC is also interested in sharing grant money depending on the stipulations from the grant making organization.

Lastly the group discussed the name of the Mason Organic Garden. Waxman noted that since all three gardens don’t use pesticides or other chemicals they’re all organic and suggested the Mason Organic Garden change its name to the Potomac Heights Garden. Mason Organic Garden manager, Danielle Wyman and member Nya Jackson agreed. Jackson told Waxman she would get back to him with a final decision after she spoke to fellow garden members and got their approval.

The Mason Campus Garden Consortium ,which encompasses the three gardens present at the meeting, have agreed to meet again in late February to begin planning for the 2011 growing season. The Mason Organic Garden will organize the meeting. In addition to the Mason Campus Garden Consortium, there are other efforts on campus to collaborate and combine efforts. This Monday the Office of Sustainability is hosting a Sustainability Lunch and Learn to bring Mason students, faculty, and staff together to discuss how to promote sustainability at Mason. If successful the Office of Sustainability is looking to make it a weekly occurrence. The Sustainability Lunch and Learn will take place in the Paul Robeson Room in the Johnson Center from 12pm-1pm. For more information please contact the Office of Sustainability Outreach Coordinator, Colin Bennett, at

For more information about the Mason Campus Garden Consortium please contact Sustainability Projects Specialist, Danielle Wyman, at