Student Garden is a Retreat from Urban Life

The new reflection garden is place for students to escape urban life and appreciate nature.

It’s no secret that green space is limited at BU.  Thanks to a group of dedicated students, there’s a little bit more to enjoy through a new reflection garden next to the Alan & Sherry Leventhal Center.

Environmental Student Organization (ESO) discussed their request for a garden with sustainability@BU and the Facilities Management & Planning Grounds Department early in September. Their goal was to create a place where the club could meet and educate its members about planting and maintaining a garden.

Fast forward a few weeks. Team Synerg-E, a team formed for an Questrom class project on leadership, were challenged to work with a non-profit organization and execute a community service project. The team had a passion for sustainability and reached out to sustainability@BU. Sustainability Outreach Coordinator, Lisa Tornatore, connected the two groups. “It seemed like excellent timing and a great way for two groups to collaborate on BU’s first community garden.”

The members of Synerg-E acted as project managers and wrote a comprehensive proposal for the garden. Meanwhile, ESO formulated a garden committee, who received input from other club members and consulted on the plan.

“Through our shared passion for sustainability, we aim to implement a reflection gardening project on our home campus at Boston University by amalgamating theefforts of multiple green initiatives at BU, thereby increasing awareness of the attainable positive impacts from small and simple changes. –Synerg-E Proposal

The group presented their proposal for the first phase of the project to Student Government on November 3rd, asking for $2,500 in funding for plants, path pavers, and a bench.  The plants listed in the proposal included perennial varieties of flowers, grass, and shrubs recommended by FM&P Grounds Manager Ray Bourgeois.

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Team Synerg-E, who acted as project managers throughout the process, drafted a proposal and pitched their idea to Student Government. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky.

“Once they are planted you pretty much leave them alone,” said Bourgeois, explaining that perennials were a perfect choice because they require little maintenance and last multiple growing seasons.

ESO would be primarily responsible for maintaining the garden and would have the opportunity to use it as an educational tool to teach members how to own a garden, potentially getting guidance from the Grounds Department.

It was also Bourgeois who recommended the location to the team.

“It was the perfect space; highly visible, a potential tour talking point [to show] the collaboration of different organizations on campus,” said Synerg-E.

The students wasted no time getting to work once their proposal was approved. Student Government gave them approval on the 3rd and they got to work on the first phase of the project just 4 days later.

Over 20 people showed up to help plant, despite some chilly and wet weather, including Team Synerg-E, members of ESO, and volunteers from the Community Service Center.


Grounds Manager, Ray Bourgeois, helping student volunteers. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky.

“I was amazed they had as many people they did…the Synerg-E students were on top of everything and did everything they said they were going to do,” said Bourgeois, who was among those helping plant.

The second phase of the project will focus on “expanding the reach of the garden,” said Synerg-E member Aby Goenka, “We only used a small portion of the grass area…in the spring we can get more seasonal plants and fill those areas and even maybe [add] edible herbs”.

The next phase also involves handing the control over to ESO as team Synerg-E’s project will be over.  The organization has their own funding that will allow them to sustain the garden in the future now that the start-up costs have been taken care of.


Team Synerg-E, ESO, CSC, FM&P Grounds, and sustainability@BU at the planting. Photo By Kalman Zabarsky.

Sarah Ciresi, from ESO’s Garden Committee, is very eager to keep the project going.

“This garden provides a green space for students, faculty, and other members of the BU community, in our otherwise very urban environment. I think having a natural landscape apart from our sometimes busy and hectic city is extremely important, and this garden will allow members of the community to enjoy nature while providing them with a quiet area to relax and study.”

And even though Synerg-E may be disbanding following the end of their leadership course, they hope to stay involved. “Our team was formed because, we as individuals love the environment.”

Synerg-E’s efforts will allow future generations of BU students a retreat from urban life where they too can appreciate the environment.

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