Crossroads Community Cafe

Crossroads Community Cafe, the start-up social enterprise that provided the delicious dinner for the Project Handprint Symposium, won second place in an entrepreneurial “pitch” contest.  Check out this video highlighting their work, featuring handprinter Didi Emmons, who wrote Wild Flavors, the fabulous book about growing and eating with farmer extraordinaire Eva Sommaripa ’63.

Wellesley College Blackout 2013

For just 3 minutes on October 30th, Wellesley Energy and Environmental Defense (WEED) organized a campus-wide blackout to bring “light” to energy issues! Working with staff and students across campus, they raided dorms and academic buildings leading up to the blackout to shut off as many lights as possible. They even brought a film crew along to document the experience.

Diversitree: Polyculture in Action

This past summer, one of the projects undertaken by the Environmental Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture interns was the planning and implementation of a permaculture garden at Ashland Middle School located about ten miles west of the college.

The project was born from a partnership between the Ashland Middle School, the Wellesley College Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and Kristina Jones’ spring semester horticulture class. In the fall of 2011, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life undertook President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, an initiative meant to bring people of different faiths together in community service. In their partnership with Ashland Middle School, one goal was to install a permaculture garden in the middle of a large traffic circle (roughly 37’ in diameter) where only patchy grass was growing. Kristina’s horticulture class contributed their expertise in permaculture gardening.

Why a permaculture garden? Low maintenance, a facet of permaculture design, was especially important for the traffic circle. Also, the philosophy of permaculture aligned well with the mission of the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. Permaculture relies on a diversity of plant types and favors intentional cooperation over competition. While biologically sound principles, these values are useful for middle school students as well. The name “Diversitree” was chosen for the site, embodying both biological properties and philosophical ones.

– Excerpts from Rebecca Leung’s ’13 article for the Wellesley College Botanic Gardens Friends Newsletters


Rules for a Good Garden

These gardening instructions were compiled by the summer caretaker of the Asian Garden to hand over to its fall caretaker.

Daily Commandments

I. Thou shalt water the garden deeply twice a week. Three hours shall be the time of the watering, and the time of the water shall be three, no more, no less. Thou shall carefully hand water the sections without drip-hoses (the bok choi, bean, and luffa sections).

II. Thou shalt pluck any ungodly weeds thou seest. (Grass beneath the squashes/melons/luffa is fine).

III. Thou shalt keep the sassy, stinky calabash gourd in its place. Cut its tendrils without mercy if they begin to creep onto the other vegetables or the trees.

IV. If thou seest thine bok choi struggling to survive, thou shalt rejuvenate it with Neptune’s Harvest.

V. Thou shalt mound soil around the base of the bok choi as it grows in order to “blanch” the stalks.

VI. Thou shalt not forget about Kristina’s tomatoes. Their area needs to be weeded, and the plants should be suckered.

VII. Thou shalt attend to the edamame with tender loving care. Some hungry insect is nibbling at the leaves and the Fels Naptha soap from above the potting room sink should be shaved off into a spray bottle and sprayed under the leaves if the problem persists (Use only enough soap to make the water cloudy).

When to Harvest Things

VIII. Harvest the bounty whenever thou seest it.

As for harvesting the stranger things in the garden:

Taro: It should be harvested when the leaves turn yellow. This shouldn’t happen until fall because the plants take 200 days to mature. However, the leaves can also be eaten, but then you can’t eat the bulb. Take your pick. (Also see this site for more info:

Peppers: Most of the hot peppers are ready when they are red. Hybrid golden hot peppers are ready when orange.

Bitter gourd: It looks like you can harvest the bitter gourd any time from when it is 1 inch long. Here’s a great site on the subject: Also it is really ugly! Google it to see.

Eggplants: Some of the eggplants are likely mislabeled. When the fruit comes in, you may want to move or amend the signs by consulting the seed packages in the potting room cubbies.

Cilantro: Eat the cilantro! It is a monster! Cut off the blooms if you do not want them to reseed themselves.

Spinach: Malabar spinach can be harvested as soon as the stems are growing well. Caution: it is apparently a bit of an acquired taste and is mucilaginous.

Ginger: Harvest ginger sometime in late fall. Sources say to harvest when the leaves turn brown (8-10 months?!), but this has already happened. Let’s experiment with this.

Additional Planting

IX. Sew thy kale, radishes, and snow peas in August. Depending on how large the beans get, something small could be planted in front of them. If we want some kale, we can dig up the boisterous horseradish in the corner to make room.

X. Plant thy garlic cloves in mid-to late October.

Cleaning Up the Garden

XI. In order to have a clean slate next year, the following must be taken out of the garden, most easily in mid to late fall:

Soaker hoses (They wrap around the middle two triangles and then the two walls closest to the greenhouses; at each black junction they can be detached.)


Poles (There are four supporting the pole beans and three tied to the wall with the bitter gourds.)

Little black signs, of which there are many.

The spirit rocks (Put them somewhere special lest we never have green thumbs again! If possible, find a nice weed to plant in said rocks.)

Things that are Perennial or will need to be dug up in the garden:

Horseradish, Fish Plant, Water Celery, Ginger and Taro.

Note that Eric Toensmeier says (in Perennial Vegetables) that you can overwinter taro in zone 6 if you are intentional about it. “With a well protected location and plenty of mulch it can be done. A northern growing season is still not long enough to mature taro as a root crop in a single year, but one could eat roots at the end of the second year, or just harvest the edible leaves”

Campus Cultivation Conference

Two springs ago, Middlebury College students organized a completely student-run conference that they named the Campus Cultivation Conference. People from peer schools came together to share ideas, discuss deep questions, network, and grow in a short but wildly successful day. A contingent of Wellesley Regeneration students came back with their fingers itching for dirt and hearts exploding with excitement, and started planning for the 2012 Campus Cultivation Confecampus cultiv conf greenhouse meditationrence at Wellesley.

With about 20 students representing seven colleges, including Middlebury, Brandeis, Olin, Babson, Tufts, and Bennington, on the appointed day the Observatory where the conference was held bustled with excitement. The day included workshops on vision and asset mapping, a roundtable discussion on the Farm-Campus relationship, meditation in the Greenhouses led by Ji Hyang Padma, the Buddhist chaplain, and a brainstorming session for a regional student farm networking site being built by two students in a Wellesley web design class. It ended with a gloriously huge and heartwarming communal dinner at Instead, the Feminist Co-op.

We’d like to think that the 2012 Campus Cultivation Conference was a successful second generation. Our greatest hope is that it will again take root somewhere, to become a yearly event that gets passed among schools. Like farming, that requires trust and hope. We ate the ripened fruit and threw the seeds to the wind, hoping they’ll be picked up. Will they? Let’s pray for rain.

– Excerpts from Ellen Bechtel’s ’14 article for the Wellesley College Botanic Gardens Friends Newsletter