The warm, summer sun shines as Danielle Krcmar stands in a part of campus many never come upon. She is behind Hollister Hall, near the back of Reynolds. The space is mostly parking lot, but tucked in next to Hollister sit the raised beds of the Babson community garden. The plants are plentiful and varied. Tomatoes and lettuce, broccoli and garlic, cilantro and strawberries.
“This is it in all its glory,” Krcmar says. “During the summer I want to have my office hours out here.” As she talks, Krcmar hovers over the garden, bending down from time to time to yank out a weed. “I can’t help but weed,” she says. “There’s something satisfying about it.” At one point, she picks some of the poetically named wrinkled crinkled crumpled cress and offers a taste to a visitor. “It’s very peppery,” Krcmar says. “It’s great in a salad.”
For Krcmar, the garden is a labor of love that falls outside her typical responsibilities as Babson’s artist in residence. Jon Dietrick, an associate professor, approached Krcmar about starting a garden after he had seen other campus gardens and felt that the College was missing something important. Since it was planted in 2010, the garden has grown from two beds to 10.
While Krcmar may oversee the garden, she is far from the only person working on it. A core group of 10 to 15 students, staff, and faculty regularly help, and others chip in. In all, Krcmar estimates that more than 50 people this year have put their hands in the ground.
“Our vision is it is really a Babson community garden, all of us working together on it,” says one of the regular gardeners, Arline MacCormack, assistant director of experiential programs in the Undergraduate Center for Career Development. From her ground-floor office in Hollister, MacCormack can look out the window and see the garden. “There is something very rewarding about watching life grow,” she says. “I’m keeping an eye on the snap peas. They’re little. They went in a little late.”
Helping with the garden doesn’t involve a large time commitment. “I weed a little bit, or pick a few things,” MacCormack says. “It’s pretty chill.” One recent project for the gardeners was the creation of a makeshift greenhouse, known as a hoop house, using PVC pipe that is then covered in plastic sheeting. By placing the hoop house over the beds, the gardeners were able to extend last year’s growing season. Some plants stayed in the ground as late as December, Krcmar says.
When crops are ready, gardeners simply pick what they want and eat it. Any leftovers go to Sodexo to use in campus eateries. Herbert Castillo ’15, a regular contributor to the garden and the president of Babson’s Green Tower, enjoys sitting by the garden, and he likes to pick some fennel and add it to his meals at Trim. “Putting my hands in the dirt allows me to be more in touch with my food,” he says. “I never thought going to Babson would involve learning about agriculture.”
The garden offers benefits beyond fresh food. “I love playing in the dirt,” MacCormack says. “It’s a stress reliever. And the garden is pretty. I’m grateful Babson supports it.”—John Crawford