Biddeford Campus Community Garden

History

The Biddeford Campus Community Garden was founded in 2009 by a group of students in the E-Pod, a living and learning community in Padua Hall focused on environmental passions. There were originally six plots in the garden, each 12’x15’ in size. Topsoil was purchased and partially donated by Dubois Livestock and placed on top of weedcloth with a log perimeter to create a raised bed.

At the time of founding, the students understood the importance of maintaining the garden annually and the unpredictability of student presence over the summers to farm the plots. For this reason the students agreed that five of the plots would be available for faculty and staff “owners” and one plot would remain available for students to use on a first-come, first-served basis. Over the years the student plot has been farmed by students when there was interest, or farmed by an additional faculty/staff member on a one-year term if there was no student interest.

The garden was expanded by three plots in 2015 with a grant through the Maine Hunger Dialogues. The understanding is that these plots will be farmed by students for their own use and surplus will be donated to local food pantries. The intent is to maintain this arrangement whenever there is student energy to do so.

Practices

  • Facilities Management turns the water on in the spring and off in the fall when requested by garden members through the sustainability coordinator. Grounds crew needs to mow the surrounding area of the garden. Garden members are asked to either mark the hoses or lay them in a way that minimizes potential accidental damage.
  • There is a tool shed with a lock. Tools are not bought jointly, but are shared through cooperative agreement. A veteran garden member holds the original key to the shed and makes copies for new garden members. When a garden member retires their plot, they are asked to return their key to the key holder.
  • Deer fencing is considered a necessary prevention against crop losses. Garden members are asked to share the cost of replacing deer fencing when necessary. This is coordinated by the garden members and not by the university.
  • Watering is done cooperatively. Typically there is a timer for the water sprinkler, which is paid for by the garden members. When a water timer is not available, garden members have worked out a watering schedule that benefits everyone.
  • There is an Outlook Group created and maintained by the sustainability coordinator to facilitate communication between garden members. All garden members are free to post communications to the group.
  • A planning meeting is typically scheduled by the sustainability coordinator at the start of the season, usually in April, to introduce new members, discuss issues and make cooperative plans.