By CYDNEY SALVADOR ‘18
While tending to Lake Forest College’s garden last summer, Katie Harris ’20 cultivated her knowledge of sustainable living while producing plants for the community.
Alongside Olga Gutan ’19 and Isabelle Cadrot ’19, and with supervision of psychology professor Kathryn Dohrmann and former assistant to the environmental studies program, Alex Blanchard, Harris spent the summer tending to the plants and learning sustainability practices. This fall, Gutan and Harris will return under Dohrmann and current assistant to the environmental studies program, Stephanie Reuse.
“I was initially interested with becoming involved with the garden because I was looking for a summer job that would align with my values and allow me to work closely with nature,” Harris said.
“Working over the summer greatly changed my perspective on the way that we consume food in the United States. As opposed to participating in the industrial consumption of fruits and vegetables, the garden allowed me to see that growing your own food is possible and reduces the pollution from typical consumption practices.”
In conjunction with the college’s environmental studies program, the garden gives students a place “to promote sustainable practices with an environmentally friendly ideal.” Tending to and understanding the garden provides an ideal environment to learn by doing.
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“The student garden is important to teach students about growing their own food, which will lead to the reduction of negative environmental impacts on a larger scale,” Harris said. “I am now much more likely to have my own garden when I live on my own. This sort of ripple effect is extremely significant in the long run.”
The garden, established in 2010 behind the Glen Rowan building, was widely unknown to the student body as a source of produce and a site to visit the campus’ natural beauty.
“We made great progress on increasing the student awareness of the garden,” Harris said. “I first learned about the garden when I applied for the job, and other than that I hadn’t really known that the garden existed. The general response I receive when I mention the garden is ‘our school has a garden?’ Usually students are excited to know that ‘yes, we do have a garden and it welcomes visitors!’”
Hakob Parsamyan ‘20 has taken a liking to the garden’s practices and enjoys the atmosphere it provides for students. “I usually get veggies from them and they’re all delicious,” Parsamyan said. “I love the fact that we have an organic garden on campus and an opportunity buy student-grown products. The student workers were very energetic and had positive vibes.”
Not only does the garden create greener community practices, but improves the daily lives of those tending to it.
“The garden has been my sanctuary in many instances when I’ve needed to escape from some of the stresses of student or life problems,” Harris said. “The connection with nature that is built in the garden is something that could never be taught in a classroom.”
Cydney Salvador can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org