As a long-time educator, I’ve never had a student whom I’d never met ask if he or she can join in on my student’s hands-on project and then stay all day long… until March 30, 2012. That’s the date when our Ithaca College permaculture research team hosted a workday to install the infrastructure for a permaculture garden near Williams Hall. It was a big day for us, because I’d worked with several students on projects and independent studies over four years to design the garden, and we were finally breaking ground!
The welcome “crasher” had been studying in the 5th floor of the library, and saw us working in the garden. After completing his homework, he came down to help and ended up being one of our most dedicated laborers. Indeed, several other students spontaneously joined us that day, citing their longing to “do something meaningful,” to be physically as well as mentally engaged, to work in the dirt, and to fulfill their search for reasons to be hopeful. They became enthusiastic supporters of our vision of transforming this small, formerly underutilized student garden into a diverse perennial garden and gateway for reflection, education, and food production. We aim for it to model alternatives to conventional approaches to landscaping and use of public space.