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Gardening and food experts to arrive for food conference

Published: Friday, March 1, 2013

Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 02:03


Meredith Klein / Tufts Daily Archives

Tufts will host the third-ever Campus Cultivation Conference on the Hill this weekend.


Local horticulture experts and students from several New England colleges and universities will gather on the Hill tomorrow for gardening workshops and to share individual harvesting tips at the third-ever Campus Cultivation Conference. 

This year’s conference marks the first that Tufts will host, following in the footsteps of Middlebury College, which held the first conference in 2010, and Wellesley College, which held it in 2012, according to Mae Humiston, one of the event’s organizers.

“The idea is to bring different student cultivators, be they farmers or gardeners — or maybe just people who are just hoping to grow plants on campus — together in the same rooms,” Humiston, a senior, said.

Humiston, who is a member of Tom Thumb’s Student Garden (TTSG), said the group was behind bringing the Cultivation Conference to Tufts this year. The group is active in the promotion, construction and cultivation of herb and vegetable gardens on Tufts’ campus, according to senior Perri Meldon, another TTSG member.

The conference will kick off with a presentation by a keynote speaker from Groundwork Somerville who will talk about the mechanics of urban gardening. Following this presentation, TTSG member Micaela Belles said, the conference will split into various workshops covering a range of gardening and farming topics.

Workshops in Braker and Eaton Halls will cover canning and preserving, designing food systems and medicinal uses for herbs. Belles, a senior, said the workshops will also cover gardening techniques like maintaining soil health, pickling and hydroponics.

Associate Professor of Biology George Ellmore will lead a workshop on how to garden in the cold Northeastern climate, according to Meldon.

Humiston said that the dearth of gardening activity during the winter season was one of the reasons for the group’s decision to host the conference this year.

“I went [to the conference at Wellesley] last year and wanted to see it again,” she said. “So I said, ‘Hey,
let’s make this happen.’ I want to see all these farmers and gardeners get together again this year because I think this is really valuable to our knowledge base, to gaining support [and] to food advocacy.”

Students from local universities, including University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Wesleyan University, Wellesley College and other Northeastern schools will be in attendance, Meldon said.

According to Belles, the students from outside universities are all heavily involved in student gardening initiatives on their own campuses.

“We have invited students from other Northeast-area schools who either are involved in existing student gardens or farms, or are really pushing to start it on their own campus,” Belles, a senior, said.

She added that a primary focus of the conference will be to engage with students at other universities and colleges, as well as to gather students at Tufts.

“We are trying to get people who are really active in the campus gardening community to be the primary attendees of the conference,” Belles said.

Humiston is optimistic about the future of the conference. 

“I’m hoping that another school will pick it up, and  it will just keep going,” she said.

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