A Critique of Community Garden Management

Dear Beth Hooker,

I am a student who was involved with the Community Garden before it was bulldozed. I was also part of the effort of alumni and students to stop the bulldozing from happening, which was completely ignored and done anyway. I want to preface this by alluding to the history of the community garden; it was started by students as a protest when they put rocks on the lawn outside of Cole so they would stop mowing it. I find it ironic that after many years of fruit trees blossoming, biodiversity flourishing, and student involvement, that the garden has reverted back to the unproductive lawn space that it was before students put down those rocks as an act of resistance.

I’m writing this email to point out that the efforts to “revitalize” the community garden have failed. The design to “revitalize” the garden was definitely attractive, but I don’t see that design in place. I see a few raised beds which have been uncovered and unattended during the winter season – with dirt laying open just waiting to be eroded by rainfall and desertified by the sun. I would like to note that the bulldozing of the community garden completely destroyed what was arguably one of the most Biodiverse community gardens in New England. Now the space lays to waste and is barren. Furthermore, while the garden used to sequester carbon, now it actually contributes to global warming because of the lawn that gets mowed.

I also want to point out the Environmental Committee’s (and Administration’s) need for order and tidiness. Having clear cut lawns and tidy weeded garden beds is a very dated and eurocentric way of thinking. If we want to decolonize the way we manage land on campus, we have to move beyond old ways of managing land that came from settler colonialism (and that was enforced on land stolen from murdered Native Americans). Nobody else in the world believes that destroying land and putting lawn on it is sustainable. Even if it’s the status quo in green-washed & white-washed America, we all know that the status quo is NOT sustainable.

I encourage the Environmental Committee and Hampshire as a whole to re-define the word “Sustainability,” to mean something that is more than green capitalism and faux-environmentalism. I encourage that we start re-thinking how we manage the land around us and start using our heads to make designs that are regenerative to the land rather than degenerative. And if a space needs to be redesigned for whatever reason, I encourage that we do it in a way that is not fossil-fuel intensive and actually destructive to human and ecological communities.

What’s done is done. I quote other students by saying “What happened to the Community Garden is so sad and so tragic”. Students and alumni resisted the bulldozing of the garden and now I can say with confidence – the re-design did not have a positive outcome. I’m graduating this semester, so I’m not looking for a response or a defense to this, I’m not looking to get involved, or to sit down and talk about it. I’m just writing this to point out what was done wrong and hoping that it won’t happen again.

May you be well,

~Colin Eldridge~

One comment

  1. […] Media Collective’s demands). The bulldozing of the community garden to “make it better” (see: this article). The biodegradable cups, plates, and utensils at campus events. The solar panels that are rumored […]

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