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Campus News

Landscaping Creates Sub-crew to Work on EcoDorm Garden

by Micah Wilkins, web editor

Freshman Maxi Adelstein is heading the project to redesign EcoDorm's garden. "I want to reconnect people with the garden," Adelstein said. Photo by Wyatt Pace

The Landscaping crew continues to revamp the garden in front of EcoDorm and improve the ecosystem that is already in place. Starting this semester, Landscaping formed a sub-crew for this project, headed by freshman Maxi Adelstein.

“[The EcoDorm garden] needed some TLC,” Adelstein said.

Members of the sub-crew are working on redesigning the garden, to allow for more planting room and less unused space, while introducing more perennials.

“We hope to increase plant diversity and decrease people maintenance,” Adelstein said.

According to Landscaping supervisor Tom LaMuraglia, the garden in front of EcoDorm is always being worked on. Like every garden, it’s a “never ending” project, according to LaMuraglia, as with every year, the Landscaping crew tries out different designs and different plants. The very first design of the EcoDorm garden was made by a student on Landscaping even before the dorm was built.

“It’s changing a little bit in some respects in the fact that Maxi Adelstein is kind of leading up this shebang here with a couple other students,” LaMuraglia said.

Adelstein has ambitious plans not only for the garden, but also for the Ballfields quad and the adjoining wooded areas as well. She has been bouncing her ideas off of LaMuraglia since being placed on the Landscaping crew.

The herb spiral is a key element in permaculture design. Photo by Wyatt Pace

“I think more than anything Tom appreciates my enthusiasm, and sometimes over-enthusiasm,” Adelstein said. “He’s my devil’s advocate with this. It’s nice and frustrating at the same time. But I value his feedback and his experience. He’s like a history book of this whole college.”

Before coming to the college, Adelstein had ambitious ideas of what her work experience would look like.

“I didn’t want to be on Landscaping,” Adelstein said. “When I wrote my application to the school, I basically suggested starting a new crew right from the get-go. I told them I wanted to be on garden and farm and forestry, but if I couldn’t be on any of those, I was like ‘Can I just have a tenth of an acre and start my own crew?’

“Luckily I was thrown onto landscaping,” she said. “I have so much freedom and trust and responsibility on my crew.”

According to LaMuraglia, Adelstein is a smart and determined student who needs to be stimulated and challenged in order to thrive.

“She basically said to me in a conversation that ‘If I’m not challenged here, I’m going to go somewhere else to go to school, where I can be challenged,’” he said. “And I said ‘Well what’s it going to take? How about I give you these four dorms and the woods around it and see what you come up with.’ And she grabbed it by the horns and ran with it. And she’s gotten a number of students [on Landscaping] to join her in her quest.”

Landscaping is in the process of building new paths in the EcoDorm garden, so that there's "more planting room and less unused space," according to Adelstein. Photo by Wyatt Pace

LaMuraglia and the Landscaping Assistant Supervisor, Renee Fortner, have been supporting Adelstein develop her integrative studies major, which she hopes to focus on urban forestry, food forest gardening and designing gardens for people.

Before coming to Wilson, Adelstein took a year off from school, during which time she spent six months on a farm in Israel, where she became permaculture certified. She also took a course in Pennsylvania to become a food forest designer, and became involved in the urban gardening scene in Baltimore, her hometown.

Adelstein hopes to implement what she learned this past year in projects like the EcoDorm garden. She has had to take the initiative to be challenged and make things happen, she has come to realize.

“When I first got here, I expected everything to be set up for me,” Adelstein said. “But then I realized that I had to set it up for myself.”

The EcoDorm garden and other projects in the Ballfields will take a lot of dedication for the whole crew, but LaMuraglia is confident that Adelstein and others on the crew are picking up in the right place.

“This will take years of planning and implementation, but this is a great start,” LaMuraglia said. “Maxi’s got another three years with us. She’s the kind of student you’d like to enable to do things.”

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