How Does Our Garden Grow?

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by Barbara Walvoord

Recently, Thom Wright and Dining Director Paul Westerfield asked the Land Conservation Committee to response to the suggestion that Lathrop build a greenhouse with raised beds. The Farm/Fields subcommittee discussed the idea, conducted a resident survey (43 residents responded, from both campuses), and brought survey results to the entire committee for discussion at their March meeting.

Survey respondents appreciated the benefits of gardening in general–exercise, social engagement, and fresh food.  There was support for making gardening more accessible and some support for lengthening the growing season.  So the Land Conservation Committee’s statement urged that Lathrop move toward making gardening easier, more attractive, and more available for residents.

However, 84% of  survey respondents voiced serious concerns about the idea of building a greenhouse now.  Some of these negative or cautionary responses were quite lengthy, and some were strongly worded.  The concerns fall into three categories: (1) cost; (2)feasibility (including whether residents would actually use the greenhouse, and whether the north campus residents would benefit); and (3) timing (given the ongoing long-range planning and the current financial situation).

A number of respondents suggested, and the committee concurs, that Lathrop could start with smaller projects, rather than a greenhouse.  Raised beds would make gardening more accessible; placing raised beds in various locations, including both campuses, would give more residents a close-by garden ; hoops on the beds could extend the growing trug covered 41R5WdbK2uL._AC_UL115_

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The committee’s statement to Thom and Paul, with a summary of survey results and a transcription of all the survey comments is at


The land committee’s 22 members work well together, enjoy our land, and enthusiastically seek new members, whatever their physical capabilities–there’s lots of interesting work to do. Contact me at

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