The Urban Organic Garden Project (UOGP) was launched in the spring of 2011. The concept was proposed by a faculty member as part of the college's Sustainable Mini-grant Program; an initiative that provides funding for faculty and staff who propose innovative projects that integrate sustainability within existing courses or that benefit the college-wide pursuit of climate neutrality. Over 300 BHCC staff, faculty and students participated in the event that included music, dancing, cookout food and student displays that promote local growing, water conservation awareness and healthy lifestyles. Bob Steeper, Chair of Science Department and senior faculty member, led a crew of staff and students in building six raised bed garden plots measuring 8' x 12' each. To read more about the kickoff party, click here.
Students, faculty, and staff joined together for a kick-off event for the project known as the "G- Party" conducted on May 12, 2011. Since then, the garden plots have grown to become a collaborative, interdepartmental project with participants from the President's Climate and Sustainability Committee, the Commonwealth Honors Program, the Veterans' Association, the Nursing Department, BHCC Online Education, the Office for Community Engagement and the student Sustainability Club. Plots were assigned on a first come-first served basis and each group decided what plants to include and the arrangement. An informal "garden group" meets every few weeks to discuss how best to manage the plots. They have worked out an arrangement with the facilities department that allows them access to the schools commercial hose and water supply on a weekly basis. The group also discusses strategies for reducing pests, weeding procedures and growing strategies that do not involve fertilizers. In addition, two BHCC student interns, Ken Yuen and Gardy Fortune are developing a variety of tools and resources for the BHCC community. These include a manual for composting yard waste on the site, case-study summaries of Boston based community gardens and designs for benches and tool storage vessels. Gardy explains, "Composting is a really important part of any garden. It makes gardening sustainable since the waste becomes soil for the next year's growing season." BHCC student Ken Yuen comments, "Before I got involved with the LEED internship and working with the garden at BHCC, I did not know a lot about gardening because I did not have one growing up in the heart of Boston. So far I have grasped the fundamentals like watering, identifying weeds from actual plants. What I am most excited about learning is composting because from an adolescent POV it's great watching stuff rot and turn into dirt, and from a sustainability POV it is fascinating to learn about all the logistics of materials and their rate of decay."