Planting Community

Students Expand Campus Plot With Greenhouse

Will Deady, second from left, works with a crew of fellow students every weekend to build a community garden and greenhouse at UMass Lowell.

Will Deady, second from left, works with a crew of fellow students every weekend to build a community garden and greenhouse at UMass Lowell.

04/20/2012
By Julia Gavin

Mix dedicated students with a green space and building materials. What do you get? A budding community garden and greenhouse on East Campus.

The UMass Lowell Community Garden grew out of junior business major Will Deady's Eagle Scout project in his hometown of Northboro. Deady helped build and run a community garden at St. Rosa of Lima church that has donated 3,000 lbs. of produce to food pantries annually for the past five years. 

After seeing the community-building results of that garden, Deady decided to bring one to campus. Work on the original garden began in the summer of 2011 and has picked up again this spring. Deady and his fellow students have relocated a greenhouse to the plot behind Donahue Hall and plan to build raised beds for plants in coming weeks.

"The plan is to have flowers and taller plants like tomatoes outside in the garden for people to enjoy and then use the greenhouse for seedlings and vegetables," says Deady. "We've had unbelievable support from the University, students and the community."

The garden project has been funded by the Deshpande Foundation and the Division of Student Affairs. In addition to financial support, the garden is gaining partners in the Lowell community. Several organizations, including UTEC, Greater Lowell Technical High School and Lowell Sprouts -- which is run by student Mary Beth Skelley -- have expressed interest in working with the garden.

Deady has been working with his brother JJ, also a student at the University, and civil engineering student Ben Levesque to assemble and improve the greenhouse. They and other students meet most Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. at the garden to work on the structure and garden.

As the group prepares for seedlings and blossoms to appear in a few weeks, they’re working with the Deshpande Foundation to determine the best use of their anticipated vegetables and flowers. Ideas under consideration include donating produce, starting or contributing to a community-supported agriculture program and selling produce to support the garden. Either way, Deady wants the garden to be a benefit to the UMass Lowell and Lowell communities.

"I hope people enjoy the garden and help us keep it going," he says. "We're finishing up the building project, but it will need tending over the summer and everyone is welcome to help when they can."

For more information on the UMass Lowell Community Garden or to volunteer, contact William_Deady@student.uml.edu.