Field School 2017


Mason student Kirsten Bongiovanni (center) helps prep a new garden plot at the Lang Street Garden as part of the 2017 field school.


The Field School has been progressing nicely–the students have interviewed about 35% of the 70 gardeners at Lang Street Garden–it’s been fun, intensive and exhausting.

One of the fun parts of working with community gardens is the distinct opportunities for participant-observation research. Some of the students have “dug in” to the experience by helping gardeners haul mulch, sift dirt to remove weeds and their pesky roots, or in the case Kirsten Bongiovanni (above), had helped clear a plot of a new gardener.

Reading through the field notes and listening to the interviews, I find it remarkable that this group of advanced undergraduate and graduate students have transformed into independent researchers. They’re asking uninsightful questions, documenting astute observations and providing a deep analysis of a community project that is so much more than a place to grow vegetables. The community garden is a shared experience that brings Arlingtonians together for a shared purpose. It’s the location of community engagement and connection.

On Tuesday (June 20) students will present their findings to the gardeners and the general public at the Fairlington Community Center at 4:30.  I look forward to meeting the gardeners I’ve been reading about, and the lively discussion that will follow.