Locally Grown: A Brief History of Schenectady & U.S. Gardening & Agriculture

Display by: Courtney Seymour 2008-2010

According to The Encyclopedia of Union College History, Union College’s first vegetable garden may have been that of Professor Thomas McAuley (1805-1822). While at Union, McAuley lived at the north end of North College in what is now Bronner House, and the later, undated photograph seen here shows a view of where the garden may have originally stood. Isaac Jackson (Professor, 1831-1877) moved the plot in the early 1830s to make space for his flower and shrub garden, though his personal diaries provide evidence of continued vegetable plantings. Also shown here are pictures of a greenhouse that was once located in the North Colonnade courtyard, sheep grazing on “West Beach,” and “Cap’n Jackson” with his dog and horse, Cosine. Today’s vegetable garden, the Octopus’s Garden organic plot, is maintained by students, faculty and staff. Produce is donated to local soup kitchens, and is also used by Dining Services (the project’s sponsor) in the organic and local food eateries on campus, Ozone Café and Ozone Marketplace.

The ways in which we create, market, and consume food - bioengineering and our processed, fast-food culture, as examples - are matters for national debate and concern. Community, organic, and local gardening are viewed by some as sustainable solutions to the health and environmental impact of poor food choices.

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