When Susan Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, saw the community garden at Trinfo Café, she saw an opportunity to beautify a Trinity space, provide the neighborhood with access to healthy food, and engage Trinity’s students and faculty in their community. With the help of a Mellon Grant, faculty members, students, and the Trinity neighborhood, Masino has reinvigorated a centerpiece of the College’s engagement with its community.

“Because faculty members have so many demands on their time, something like this is hard to keep going [with just one faculty member],” Masino said. “But with an academic focus and multiple faculty involved, it can thrive.”

The project – called Fresh Food, New Connections – was awarded a Mellon Grant to execute this model: a rotating group of faculty members maintaining and utilizing the community garden and incorporating an academic focus. The faculty members involved come from a variety of disciplines: psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, language and culture studies, and economics.

Susan Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, speaks to the crowd at the opening of the Trinfo Cafe Community Garden.

Susan Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, speaks to the crowd at the opening of the Trinfo Cafe Community Garden.

While studying the economics of farmers markets, students in Carol Clark’s ECON 101 course helped to get the community garden up and running, as did eight students pursuing an independent study. In the coming academic year, students in Dario Del Puppo’s “Food in Italian History, Society, and Art” course will spend time utilizing and maintaining the garden. Participating faculty members have set up a four-year schedule that will help to sustain the garden and interact with the community.

While working on the garden, Masino discovered that a neighboring unused parcel was also owned by Trinity. She worked with the College to clean up the space, which will be used as an outdoor classroom and sculpture garden featuring the work of Trinity students.

On July 10, the community celebrated the opening of the garden and the outdoor classroom. Dozens of members of the Trinity community and the neighborhood explored the space, enjoying food, live music, dancing, and conversation with friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Joanne Berger-Sweeney, President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience, was among those in attendance.

“This is a real sign of the liberal arts reaching beyond the hedges and into the community,” said Berger-Sweeney. “I am so proud to be a part of this effort and a part of this College.”

To view more photos of the July 10th community garden opening, click here. Photos by John Atashian.