Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.66
Liaison Mark Lichtenstein
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
IN-7: Community Garden

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Justin Heavey
Sustainability Associate
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

A brief description of the institution’s community garden:
The picturesque grounds at ESF’s Lafayette Road Experiment Station (LRES), four miles south of the Syracuse campus, are home to research and demonstration plots by ESF’s American Chestnut Research Project and the student garden work study program. Started by the Green Campus Initiative student club (GCI) and the Sustainability Division in 2010, the garden is a welcoming and enjoyable place for students and all members of the ESF community. Each year the garden provides work study job opportunities for six to ten students. These students lead garden maintenance and upkeep. This includes all basic tasks such as planting, weeding, mowing, and general plant and space management. The garden is also frequented by volunteers, and guests from ESF’s Center for Native Peoples and the Environment who grow traditional “three sisters” (corn, beans and squash) plantings at the garden each year and share seeds and the oral history of this native people’s agricultural technique.

The garden has also been used for student research projects and several courses over the years. Produce from the garden is kept by volunteers and workers, and occasionally served at the Trailhead Café or donated to local food pantries. There is an effort underway to provide a portion of the garden’s harvest to Beth’s Bounty, ESF’s on-campus food pantry. Students are also encouraged to study a topic or project that would improve the garden and pursue implementing the projects through a formal process. Most elements of the garden have been added over the years through student initiatives.

The garden is approximately 1/3 of an acre in size and specializes in organic and sustainable approaches to food production. Tools, equipment, and storage are provided, so students can just show up and garden. The garden is divided into three distinct sections: an annual vegetable garden, a small orchard of fruit trees and shrubs, and a perennial edible forest garden.

The annual section produces traditional crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, herbs, etc., totaling about a dozen varieties of crops each year. Starter plants are purchased from a local nursery or grown in campus greenhouses and transplanted by students. This section also has a beautiful perennial wildflower planting that attracts many beneficial insects, such as bees, to improve crop pollination and health.

The orchard section of the garden is home to 16 dwarf fruit trees including apple, pear, cherry, and peach--all cold-hardy varieties that produce abundantly in New York’s climate. Here you will also find many varieties of shrubs and other edible plants such as strawberries, raspberries, thornless black berries, blueberries, currants, and even a grape arbor.

The third section of the garden is the most unique. An edible forest garden covers the north end of the site with a wide variety of trees, shrubs, small plants and ground covers, all perennial and edible, or otherwise useful species. These mostly native plants include American hazelnut shrubs, pawpaw trees, chestnut, serviceberry, plums, raspberries, chives, perennial herbs, and much more.

In total, the forest garden hosts over 40 species of perennial edible plants and is a wonder to explore. The plants and trees are arranged in a woodland or forest structure, with different species arranged to fit together based on plant size and architecture, as would be seen in a natural ecosystem. This unique perennial agricultural system provides a rare experience for visitors and a living experiment in sustainable food systems and land use. Established in 2010, it is one of the oldest and most successful edible forest gardens on a college campus and has many large trees and shrubs that have survived and grown tremendously from six inch seedlings at the time of planting.

Website URL where information about the community garden is available:
Estimated number of individuals that use the institution’s community garden annually:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.