On their Community Impact Day at the Ecology Center, Kellogg graduate students built raised beds and a compost bin near the Grady Bird Sanctuary.Photo by Mary Mumbrue

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On Sept. 6, Claire Alden, the Ecology Center senior programs manager, greeted more than 100 graduate students from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management who were to work at this site as part of their Community Impact day.

 Hundreds of purple tee-shirted graduate students worked on sustainable projects at the following sites in Evanston: The Child Care Center of Evanston on Asbury Avenue, Curt’s Café on Central Street, the Ecology Center on McCormick Boulevard, Fleetwood Jourdain on Foster Street and the Jacob Blake Manor on Emerson Street. In addition to creating these sustainable gardens, the students built raised beds where they planted cool weather vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli, peas, cabbage and bush beans.

They built compost bins, installed rain-water barrels, redesigned spots for paths of garden pavers, renewed play areas, sanded picnic tables. At the Childcare Center of Evanston, students even had to relocate a gigantic cement tortoise.

The Yellow Tractor Program, a national non-profit project management group that creates and facilitates the use of vegetable gardens, designed and managed the Community Impact Day for the Kellogg students. This day, part of the Kellogg’s School new-student orientation week, offers the new graduate students a chance to develop leadership and teamwork.

Part of this program is also to collect, analyze and develop strategic solutions to help the gardens continue. Implementing the plan helps create ongoing engagement in the gardens by the participants and the Evanston community. The graduate students will meet at a later date to discuss ideas and thoughts on their experiences, and offer recommendations for how each garden site can be sustained.