Many Franklinites know Dr. Ann Gardiner as a Lecturer in the department of Comparative Literary and Cultural studies and as the Director of the Writing and Learning Center. However, one title that is not in her job description is keeper of the university garden.
Dr. Gardiner’s passion for gardening is a gift to the Franklin community, one that complements her work in ecocriticism in literature and film. You can often find Dr. Gardiner helping students plant and harvest produce, from rosemary, mint, thyme and sage, to tomatoes, zucchini, celery and bell peppers, in the sustainable garden, tucked away on the green hillside above the science labs.
The organic garden is one of the many projects within the purview of Franklin’s Center for Sustainability Initiative (CSI). In 2009, Dr. Brack Hale (Associate Professor of Environmental Science) along with several colleagues decided it was time to create a space that would both reflect and help cultivate Franklin’s institutional commitment to environmental responsibility. Franklin’s CSI has recruited both staff and students alike to join efforts in improving campus sustainability through research, education, outreach and international collaboration. The university has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) since CSI was founded. It was also one of the first non-North American institutions to participate in AASHE's STARS rating system, which allows a university to track its progress in advancing sustainability on campus— an impressive accomplishment! The organic garden is one of CSI’s many exciting projects.
Throughout the years, Dr. Gardiner has passionately helped develop gardening space at Franklin, transforming a rocky rooftop to a fertile, blooming garden with seasonable fruits and vegetables. In her free time, one can find her in the garden with students as well as staff and faculty, sharing tips and practices on how to maintain a bountiful organic garden. Along with student volunteers, she has also started a successful composting program with Food Services - both students and food services are encouraged to dispose of their organic food scraps in a sustainable manner that both benefits the garden and the earth.
Dr. Gardiner’s devotion over the past seven years not only focuses on reducing the carbon footprint of Franklin and its surrounding community, but also on enriching students’ understanding of the importance of long-term commitment to protecting our environment. Franklin’s staff, faculty and students are committed to doing what they can to foster a more just and sustainable world. Through Franklin’s wide variety of courses focusing on environmental and cultural sustainability, students explore means by which they can personally contribute to the protection of the planet’s health.
Maybe it comes with the name, but Dr. Gardiner’s commitment to the Franklin garden and campus as a whole, is nothing short of admirable. So, when you see her up in the organic garden, know that beyond planting and weeding, she is also cultivating a culture of environmental awareness at Franklin.