Ready to get your hands dirty and D.I.T.?

Rachel Greenberger (left) and Carole Counihan at the Food and the City Conference.

by Aubree DuPlessis

“It’s about acting your way into a new way of thinking, not thinking your way into a new way of acting,” Rachel Greenberger, Director of Food Sol, an action-tank at Babson College, reminded us at last month’s Food and the City Conference. Flashes of Lorenz’s butterfly effect and quantum leaps come to mind as I reflect on her words and how one moment, sentence, or even shared experience can take us from a virtual state to a manifest state. From thought to action.

Naturally, as graduate students we spend a lot of time in a thinking state. However, wouldn’t it be nice to get outside the ivory tower once in a while? As the spirit of spring knocks at our door, I can’t help but wonder – what better way to get into an action state than by getting our hands dirty in the garden?

Whether motivated by economic reasons, city beautification, or dreams of an alternative food system, more and more people are growing their own food in what is often referred to as the D.I.Y or back to the land movement. Although this concept is nothing new, we urbanites face an interesting set of obstacles, especially when it comes to space. The lack of growing space may discourage some D.I.Y. folks from taking root, but Bostonians are resourceful and as a result, community garden participation around the city is at an all-time high.

Community gardens are an excellent way to utilize limited city space, but with increased demand, we must also consider who has access to these green spaces. My work at Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN) has illuminated the fact that although there are thousands of community garden plots, waitlists for up to a year are common. This reality makes me all the more grateful for our Gastronomy program’s privileged access to a plot at the Fenway Victory Gardens.

The Gastronomy Garden Club manifested out of the Summer 2011 Urban Agriculture course, and we started to make an impressive dent in the once-abandoned plot. As students, we theorize about issues of access and how we will improve the food system, but why wait until graduation to act on it? We have a unique opportunity to put our learning into practice right in our very own community.

The BU Gastronomy plot is roughly 30’x15,’ which is about 450 square feet and has potential to yield one ton or 2,000 pounds of produce. It’s fun to imagine all the possible ways we could enjoy 2,000 pounds of vine-ripened tomatoes, nutritious greens, and other culinary delights. Should we donate our produce to a local food pantry? Sell it at the BU Farmer’s Market? Or conduct an “Experiencing Food through the Senses” class amidst the fresh herbaceous aromas? The potential is ripe.

So let us remember: Non Satis Scire. To know is not enough. Join us on Monday, April 2, from 5-6p at 808 Commonwealth as we start making our garden a reality (no experience necessary!) Oh, and by the way, I’m over D.I.Y. – let’s D.I.T. (Do-It-Together).

Aubree is a Gastronomy student, the Produce to Pantries Intern at Boston Natural Areas Network, and a proud maker of an in-home vermicomposting system. She dreams of someday opening the lid to find the industrious worms taking a break – dressed in bow-ties and top hats, dancin’ like no one’s watching.

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