By Ryan O'Connell
Arts & Features Editor
While taking a walk down State Street, most students are not familiar with the narrow concrete path that branches off past the McCarthy Center.
Nestled between picket fences and the array of windows lining the McCarthy Center Forum lies a box of tools, and a plot of earth. Fenced off, the patch harbors wildflowers, fruits - and weeds.
Here is Framingham State’s community garden, a public locale used mostly by biology students and the Green Initiative, although it’s open to everyone.
Green Initiative held a community garden cleanup event Oct. 20, calling to students interested in helping de-weed and clean the small fenced area against the southern wall of the McCarthy center.
Leticia Rita Santos, a sophomore American Sign Language major and secretary of Green Initiative, said she knew the club had cared for it in the past, though they don’t control it.
“Someone in our club last year took care of it, and though it is not directly affiliated with our group - because it’s a community garden for any student that wants to participate - we saw that it is incredibly overgrown,” she said.
Santos added Green Initiative took the opportunity of tidying the garden to alert other students to its existence, and as a form of inviting them to take from, provide for, or otherwise use the community garden.
“I’ve always gardened growing up, and so it just brings me back to that point, and it makes me just a little bit happier. It’s also nice to see a place that’s been so overgrown be treated how it should be,” she said.
Santos said the event was important for informing students the space was open to them, as well as preparing it for the coming spring.
Ben Hurney, a sophomore studio art major and member of Green Initiative, said he had participated in the Campus Sustainability cleanup a few weeks prior. He added he helped at the Green Initiative garden cleanup due to his passion for the environment.
He said he was inspired to join the cleanup due to the obscurity of the garden, and since he had never seen it well maintained during his time at FSU. He added he thought it would be encouraging to see the space taken care of, and would contribute to the campus.
“I feel like it’d be a cool thing to actually get going. Even if you don’t receive anything out of it or get anything out of it, it’s just one of those things where if you see it doing well it’s nice to see - because you know other people are appreciating it,” Hurney said.
He said he feels a lot of students are passionate about the environment, and it’s “just an issue of knowing what to do.” He added, “I think what I care about, and what a lot of other Green Initiative members care about is trying to give students a way to do that, or just an idea.”
Hurney said he felt the cleanup was important to the FSU community, and that even if their progress was slow, it was more helpful than doing nothing. “It doesn't hurt, for sure,” he said.
Michael Gardner, a sophomore English major, said the garden cleanup was the first community cleaning event he’d participated in for a while. He said he remembered picking trash up off a baseball field in his hometown, and cleaned outdoor spaces in the past for work.
Gardner said he came to the event having never heard of the community garden before, and was interested in checking it out. “I mean, obviously [if] people haven’t heard of it then it may not be in the best condition,” he said.
He added when he first heard of the community garden, he was initially surprised. “I think that’d be a bigger thing,” he said. “Cleaning up just attracts more people to it because it’ll come alive, just look nicer. So people will want to come to it.”
Ainslee Caton, a sophomore environmental science and policy major and president of Green Initiative, organized the garden cleanup.
Caton said the organization was focusing more on helpful and fun events this semester for existing members, rather than putting excessive energy into advertising the club.
She said growing up in Yarmouth, she remembers beach cleanups and past garden cleanups she took part in while a part of the National Honors Society in high school. “It’s just the sense of having that little bit less of trash or waste in that area, especially when it comes to gardens,” she said.
She added she was excited to see the transformation of the garden as it was cleaned by Green Initiative members and other students.
Caton said she first learned about the community garden last year, when a previous secretary of the club brought her and another member to tour the garden. She added it was in a better state last year, and even remembered the previous secretary “was eating a tomato while showing us around the area,” which was filled with fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
She said seniors leaving the club has been a challenge in maintaining the garden, and although they are not obligated to care for it, Green Initiative plans to hold more events surrounding it in the future, such as a planting in the spring.
“It helps, not just with the natural beauty, because - as much as campus is beautiful and all - it’s a lot of … the green grass you see from the sprinklers, and not as many everyday gardens, with your tomatoes and lavender right next to each other,” Caton said.