Ellen McAllister, Creative Editor
It was a crisp fall day filled with student-grown squash, hot apple cider, Lerch’s Donuts, paint and glitter—all the makings of the first annual Squash Carving Social held by the Environmental Studies Department on Friday, Oct. 21. Professors and students of various majors came together to carve squash and spend time in the campus Learning Garden.
The Environmental Studies Department held a squash carving event not only to bring people together, but also to ensure that the food grown in the Learning Garden was not wasted, and instead used in an interesting way. They hoped to encourage seasonal sustainability through this event, and want to encourage students of all majors to interact with the gardens and the department throughout the season and the rest of the year.
The squash was planted by Alyssa Lubba ’24, Salem Nega ’23 and Rae Blakenmeyer ’24 as part of an internship this summer with Professor Mariola. Starting in June, they planted tiny squash seeds in the Learning Garden, which is located behind Ruth Williams Hall and next to The Office of Admissions. The interns wanted to utilize the garden space to gain experience with gardening and all the different components associated with it. They grew a variety of plants, such as corn, green beans, sunflowers and of course, squash. Squash are a closer relative to pumpkins, so they can be eaten and their seeds can be harvested. Additionally, there are two other gardens located in the same area, one of which is a pollinator garden.
Even though the squashes were planted in June, they weren’t ripe until last week. They were finally harvested by the sustainable agriculture class taught by Professor Mariola, which introduces students to the science behind sustainable agriculture practices. The Learning Garden allows students to have a hands-on approach to class content.
Originally, Blakenmeyer didn’t have a plan for after graduation, but after having the opportunity to work in the garden, she would love to go into agriculture. Not only did she learn a lot about gardening, she also enjoyed the process of planting seeds and watching them grow into plants. “It’s really special to see something grow,” she said, as everyone at the event happily carved the squashes she grew from seeds.
When students arrived at the Squash Carving Social, they chose a squash, washed it and then grabbed the necessary tools to begin carving. Paint and glitter were also available to decorate the squashes. Evelyn Trumpey ’24, Zoe Jurkowski ’24 and their friends had a great time sitting outside, socializing and being creative. As they scraped out the inside of their squashes and chatted away, they said that, “this is a fun and interactive event where we can be outside and enjoy the fall weather in the company of great people.”
As Gordon “Don” Reeves ’23 was anxiously awaiting the hot apple cider, he said that “the Squash Carving Social was the event with the most fall vibes that [he had] experienced on campus so far this year.” He later added that it “felt good that [he] was able to reuse the contents of the squash and not let the vegetables go to waste.”
The Environmental Studies Department is trying to hold more events like the Squash Carving Social to build a larger community on campus of both majors and non-majors alike. Gabby Gajdos ’23 said that, “it’s cool to see other environmental studies majors and those who are up-and-coming through the department at events and to learn more about them.”
Next time you’re walking around campus, make sure you take a peek at the Learning Garden. You might find some interesting vegetables, flowers, a cool bug or just a great spot to sit and talk with friends.