A Brief History of the Project
This project had its roots in the formation of a new student group, Oberlin Garden Project (OGP). In the fall of 2009, the group of about 20, after having done plenty of talking for over a month, decided to embark on a project. The site: Johnson House, 216 South Professor Street, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio. The goal: A student run organic market garden and orchard. After initial plans, designs, and proposals, the group ran into some rough terrain. Organizing people toward one project, while still trying to retain each and every individual proved to be difficult. OGP was formed on the ideals of environmental sustainability initiatives focused on gardening. Working as an entity of the college within the community, or vice versa, was something that eluded their abilities to initiate in either the community or the college. Bridging the college/community divide is something that the group and the garden holds as an overarching principle. But without a viable project within either the college or the community, there was little hope that any progress would be made. That, and the initial proposal got ripped apart by the review committee (special thanks to the Director of Facilities Operations- Keith Watkins- et al). There was a lot planning and organization that had to be done before we could even think about putting a shovel in the ground on College property.
Over winter term in January, a few members still collaborated on the project. While Heather Sedlacek, William Elman, and Dave Sokoll were in Oberlin on campus networking and doing research for the project, Dan Cook and Madalyn Berg were revamping the garden/orchard project designs in their home towns of Cleveland and San Francisco respectively. Upon an early return to campus in early February, Dan met with the other three members already on campus. After a long winter term away, the group met on a dark snowy February night, the future of the project to be determined. After a few hours, the four emerged with a drastically different course of action from that of first semester. The group’s organizational structure was re-evaluated completely. OGP was no more. The Johnson House Student Garden would move forward, five strong, into the spring, with hopes of breaking ground on what would be one of the first projects of its kind on campus. The project now relied on these individuals -the Johnson House Student Garden Sub-Committee.
In fall of 2010, the Johnson House Student Garden Sub-Committee approached the Resource Conservation Team in order to ensure the stability and longevity of the garden. The garden is now under the management of the Resource Conservation Team, who hold office hours and coordinate volunteers as well.
There was a Permaculture ExCo in fall 2010 taught by Dan Cook and Madalyn Berg. It was taught in a classroom setting, as well as at the George Jones Memorial Farm, and the Johnson House Garden.