The Mino Aki garden crew of two—Danny Simpson and Sam Phelps—have been working to expand and improve the campus gardens this summer. Their experience in agriculture combined with leadership from the Food Systems Center director Todd Rothe and gifts from donors, have the gardens looking and producing at their best.
The two have planted the new perennial foods garden by Memorial Hall, as well as planned and implemented a polycultural production garden behind the McLean Environmental Learning and Living Center. Look for Danny and Sam Saturday mornings 8 a.m. to noon at the Ashland Farmer’s market on Chapple Avenue.
Danny Simpson, senior
Major(s): biology and environmental geoscience
Apart from the Garden Crew: Danny served on three committees pertaining to sustainability and food systems initiatives on campus.
How he got here: For the past six years, Danny has worked at Wheatfield Hill Organics, a certified organic produce and beef farm owned his great-aunt and -uncle Helen and Bob Kees. While employed at Wheatfield Hill, he worked with annual and perennial production systems including various vegetables, berries, and pasture.
Summer Highlights: Establishing a perennial fruit and vegetable garden on campus, that has been in the planning phase since my sophomore year and attending the farmers market.
Sam Phelps, sophomore
Major(s): sustainable community development
In addition to Garden Crew: Sam is also one of the managers in Northland’s composting program
How he got here: Sam spent two years in central America volunteering with various non-profits. His first year was spent learning about water systems in rural communities, participating in language exchanges with students, and volunteering in sea turtle conservation. During his second year, he found a job working as a coordinator of a Permaculture farm outside a small Nicaraguan village. It was there that he learned about permaculture design, natural building, fermentation, beekeeping, arboriculture, as well as other skills. His favorite part of the work was meeting and working with individuals in the community. Seeing the difference firsthand in the health and economic welfare between sustainable agriculture practices and conventional sparked a passion in Sam for food security and sustainable community development.
Summer Highlights: learning about new ways to combine elements in the garden to produce better results. He is fascinated by things like landscaping for efficient water retention and companion planting, both of which he sees are ways to improve the health of your garden and express your creativity. Sam is excited to see how the new food processing facility will develop with the gardens and the local community to improve soil health and empower producers with a way that adds value to their products
To support the gardens and the crew volunteer on campus, shop at the Mino Aki stand at the farmer’s market, and/or donate to the growing project (type in Mino Aki in the “others” section).