Located outside Laird Hall, Eat the Lawn, Carleton’s edible garden landscape, is relocating. Why is it being moved, and what effect will the change have on the garden?
Created in the spring of 2009 as a studio art project by Katie Blanchard ’10, Eat the Lawn is planned, planted and maintained entirely by students each season. The food in the garden is free for the taking for everyone on campus.
The reasons for moving the garden are varied. Kelly Scheuerman, the Program Director for Civic Engagement Pathways at the CCCE, says the move was due to the structure for overseeing the garden. “Due to uneven care of the garden, it was decided that ETL would be given one more year under the new structure and then would be put to rest.”
Shira Kaufman, the Program Director for ETL (Eat the Lawn), notes the garden’s proximity to Laird and President Poskanzer’s office. “The administration’s main concern is that ETL is right in front of the president’s office and is often the first thing that people see when they come to campus.”
Tori Ostenso ’15, a CCCE Food & Sustainability Fellow, adds that the “administration wants Eat the Lawn to be a hidden gem,” rather than being “the face of Carleton.”
The desire to move the garden from outside the president’s office should not be interpreted as apathy on the part of the administration. “Both voices in the administration and students love the idea of having a campus garden…so a location change made sense as a way to appease everyone and make the ETL better!” says Kaufman.
Student interest in food and the movement for sustainable food have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity across the country. Scheuerman wonders if this interest has brought “more awareness to ETL.”
Kaufman concurs – “There’s definitely a trend towards interest in food systems and farming and the ETL certainly fits into that niche.”
Kaufman looks forward to the new ETL with high hopes. “The plan is to start it in front of the LDC. It gets good sun, has a lot of foot traffic, and is fairly central on campus...The idea is for it to be beautiful, edible and lasting.”
Scheuerman calls the new location a “win-win for students and administrators” due to the location’s adjacency to the LDC and a bigger area to work with.
While Eat the Lawn already relies on the time and efforts of students, Ostenso hopes to make it more interactive and student-friendly. “We hope to have benches, signs, and a list of garden chores for anyone to tackle when they come by.”
Besides the tasty fruits and vegetables produced in the garden, Eat the Lawn is an important program on campus because it inspires students to analyze and assess food systems and processes.
Scheuerman says, “It’s important that Carleton keep thinking in new and innovative ways about how to stretch people’s thinking about our increasingly dysfunctional food system. ETL, despite being a small project, is one project that shows us what is possible.”
This summer, a group of interested students will meet weekly with local permaculture and garden-savvy people in Northfield to design and begin breaking ground on the new Eat the Lawn.