Successful FarmFest event paves the way for new Wheaton Community Garden

With spring weather in full swing, the official inauguration event of the Wheaton College Community Garden brought hundreds of students, faculty, and Norton residents together for an afternoon focused on sustainability. The three hour event, better known as FarmFest, featured farmers’ markets, local bands, and a variety of other activities—including a gigantic rock wall.

Organized by Ciara Sidell ’15, Grace Coughlin ’15, and Zara Goldberg ’15, FarmFest took months of planning and coordinating with a number of other student groups. “We had the idea last August. We met the first day of school, and since then we’ve all been a part of this,” said Coughlin.

The event focused on the inclusion of the entire Norton community. Children from the Elisabeth Amen Nursery School painted tiles that will line the community garden beds, and many of the students who attended FarmFest were from Norton public schools. “Because the garden focuses on community we also wanted to feature a lot of student bands like the Lymin’ Lyons,” said Ciara Sidell ’15. “So the student bands played the first hour-and-a-half and then the Chad Hollister Band did the second hour-and-a-half.”

The broad appeal meant the event was more popular than initially anticipated. A large rock wall generated the most excitement but FarmFest also featured garden activities and free food. “At one point it looked like there were 150 to 200 people,” said Sidell. “The taco food truck ran out of food about half-way through. So within about an hour and ten minutes we went through $600 worth of tacos.” Despite this being FarmFest’s first year, Sidell hopes its popularity will make it an annual sustainability event.

FarmFest, which took place across from the Wheaton Baseball field and Clark Athletic Center, marked the inauguration of a new community garden titled WheaFarm. Aftertaste, a student slow food group, originally hoped to initiate the Wheaton Farm project a number of years ago. However, it is now being produced with the help of the Norton school district, Cupboard of Kindness (a food pantry in Norton), and other local organizations. A Kickstarter campaign for the project recently received 72 backers who raised a total of $5,290. Once completed, WheaFarms stated goal will be to engage Wheaton and Norton in activities related to food justice and sustainability.

“The idea is six or seven years in the making, so we weren’t here when [the garden] first started coming up in people’s minds,” explained Sidell. “This summer, the people who will be living in the Farm House will start breaking actual ground.”