Lehman Grows a Garden

Lehman’s Edible Garden, which sits within a white picket fence on a rectangular patch of land between the Fine Arts Building and Gate 6 on Goulden Ave., is flourishing. Vines sag under the weight of ripe tomatoes, purple eggplants, and dark green peppers—all thanks to the care of a handful of students and staff from the Adult Learning Center and other members of the campus community.

The Department of Health Sciences, in collaboration with the Adult Learning Center, started the garden in 2009 as a way to educate the Lehman community about growing food. Today, the Adult Learning Center, which is a program of the Institute for Literacy Studies, runs the garden’s day-to-day operations, including clean-up work and readying the soil.

Kitty Crooks, who works with students in the Adult Learning Center, inspecting new growth in the garden.

Kitty Crooks, who works with students in the Adult Learning Center, inspecting new growth in the garden.

Weekly workshops for students in the BE/GED or ESOL programs are structured around the curricular needs of the students. Lessons include health literacy and nutrition, food justice, growing local, plant science, soil enrichment, and composting. Students are involved in everything from seed selection and seeding, to picking and cooking the foods grown.

This year, the Adult Learning Center came up with a new theme: “Kitchen Gardens from Around the World,” inspired by the ethnic and regional backgrounds of students. The group started with three areas, half a raised bed each, devoted to edible plants from Asian, Latin American, and Southern American cuisines.

Tomatoes from the garden.

Tomatoes from the garden.

Other edible foods found in the garden include basil, parsley, chrysanthemums and marigolds, sugar snap peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, and turnips. Due to last season’s mild winter, the garden never officially closed, and with the added protection of a hoop house built over one of the raised beds, the group’s fall plantings of lettuce, arugula, and kale never stopped growing, which meant that fresh salad from the garden was available all winter.

Members of the campus community are welcomed and encouraged to stop by the garden whether to help or just pick up a few useful tips for growing food.

“Lehman Edible Garden 2012” is available on Facebook. For questions, e-mail lehman.ediblegarden@lehman.cuny.edu.

Lisa Hiers, a student in the Adult Learning Center, performing maintenance work in the garden.

Lisa Hiers, a student in the Adult Learning Center, performing maintenance work in the garden.