History of Bowdoin
College’s Organic Gardens
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Joel Cartwright (Bowdoin class of 2006) played an instrumental role in the creation of the Bowdoin Organic Garden.  He also was involved with getting the composting program up and running at Bowdoin.  He passed away in 2008, and his family kindly sent photos of  Joel that are shared below.

Joel Cartwright, Liz Hoering, Lauren Withey, and Laurel Jones, and Tristan Noyes hatched the idea of the Bowdoin Farm while they were students in 2004-2005.  The farm's first season was in 2005, when Joel and Tristan (with help from the others) used field space at Crystal Spring Farm to grow produce.  I think they had an $800 grant from the Maine Harvest Initiative.  

The original field was down the hill from the current spot, amongst Seth's produce.  Since Seth had been amending the soil, these crops did very well and Joel was able to sell them to Dining.  During the 2005/2006 academic year, Joel successfully convinced Dining to hire a full-time, non-student manager to ensure the farm's long term survival.  I was the one they hired, and I took over from Joel, who started the 2005 growing season, in August of that year.  

We were farming in the current Pleasant Hill Road spot by then.  Joel and I set up the current system with Dining in which they paid labor and seed costs and got 90% of the produce (the other 10% went to MCHPP), with no money exchanged but expenses tracked.  

In 2005 and 2006, I just farmed the back portion of the Pleasant Hill Road field.  In 2007, I asked Seth to till up the front section of the plot, and Pleasant Hill 'B' was born.  In that same season, I lobbied the College to let me convert the two South Street plots into garden spaces, and in 2008, I planted the first crops there; high bush blueberries, herbs, greens and flowers.  

I had been establishing a relationship with Wolfe's Neck Farm from 2009-2011, and in 2011, I farmed half an acre there for the first time.  I grew wheat, winter squash and alliums.  From 2006-2011, I managed the farm by myself and with one student intern from June-August.  In the fall of 2011, Dining allowed me to hire a part-time, non-student assistant, and I hired Marielle.  She stayed on when I left and Sara took over.  Before I left, I pleaded with Dining to let us hire two student summer interns, and they found some funding, so 2012 was the first year with a staff of four.   

Some reflections on the history of the Bowdoin Organic Garden from Katherine Creswell, the first non-student

manager of the Garden, appear below.  Katherine also kindly sent two photos from the early days.

Photo of squash from Wolfe’s  Neck Farm in 2011 was provided by Katherine Creswell.

Photo of the cart filled with produce at the Bowdoin Organic Garden  in 2011 was provided by Katherine Creswell.