"Oh, the Things We'll Grow"

Brandeis Patchwork Garden—Background

A year ago, students from the Greening Class created a garden on the southern facing hillside of Massell Quad. This exciting project increased students’ awareness of the importance of locally and organically grown produce, got many students on campus involved in growing their own food, and added  new meaning for many to the notion of “local” food.

Expanding the Garden

Based on this idea, six students in the Fall 2010 Greening Class decided to expand both the size and impact of the existing garden and establish a relationship between the garden and the food served to a great number of students by Dining Services. For that reason, we chose to grow a variety of herbs which could be incorporated in a wide variety of on-campus meals. In this respect, many more students could not only benefit from eating local and organic food, but also eat food grown by the Brandeis community.

Construction Plans and Process

Originally, we proposed building a pop-up greenhouse. However, the expense, practicality and appearance of a greenhouse deterred us from idea and led us to an alternative of building raised beds with cold frame attachments. Cold frames will maximize herb production in winter by fully capturing the southern sun exposure behind Massell Quad.

  • Step 1: We started construction of their raised bed project by digging two 4 x 8ft holes next to the preexisting garden. Group members used a rototiller to help in breaking up the rocky New England soil and creating the outline of the plot. We also used shovels to clear the plots of soil and rocks in between using the rototiller.
  • Step 2: For the construction of the raised beds, 4 x 8ft planks of untreated pinewood were used. We based the wooden structure on a 2:3 ratio, which utilized the sun by catching it at a 30˚angle. Once the bed was finished and in place, we built a cold frame using 2 x 8ft planks of untreated pine and 4 mm recycled plastic sheeting to insulate the raised beds.
  • Step 3: A local donor provided us with a variety of seedlings: chives, oregano, and parsley. WeCare Composting Facility (link to WeCare please!) provided cured compost from Brandeis University’s own organic food waste; for the project.