Student-Designed 'Mobile Ethnic Garden' Brings People, Cultures Together Over Food

mobile ethnic garden harvard design photo

Photos of the "mobile ethnic garden" via Christina Cho.

Compared to learning a new language or traveling to another country, digging into a plate of Chinese greens or whipping up a spicy serving of salsa may seem like a superficial shortcut to cultural understanding. But food, and the rituals surrounding it, is often so close to the heart of a people's history and worldview that exploring and sharing foods from different culinary traditions can be an eye-opening -- and mouth-watering -- way to experience other cultures. At Harvard University, students don't even have to seek out that opportunity -- it comes to them.Korean fruits and vegetables were the first crop sown in Christina Cho's "mobile ethnic garden," but the architecture student envisions her invention as a way for people to bond over different types of food as they sit planting them side by side. For the project, which received a grant from the school's Office of Sustainability, Cho "came up with a garden that actually comes to the community," the Sustainability @ Harvard website wrote:

She designed a network of raised planter beds set on wheels that can be easily transported and fit together in multiple arrangements. The beds double as benches, offering visitors a way to gather and interact. Plus, the format benefits plants as well as people: the garden's mobility means that it can maximize sunlight and raised beds reduce soil compaction and improve water conservation and drainage.

A former structural engineer who worked on the uber-ecofriendly California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Cho used salvaged wood -- old fir fencing, to be exact -- to build the garden on wheels, which can easily be brought to different school departments or dorms. It had its debut in the spring with a Korean fruit and vegetable planting party at the Graduate School of Design. A Korean BBQ is planned for September to celebrate the first growing season.

More about community gardens:
Grow a Community Garden
Greensburg 2: The Community Garden: Video
New York's Community Gardens Lose Protected Status, Threatened With Development Under New Rules
Growing Food, and Community, in the Desert
Camden's Garden Club Doubles Its Community Gardens to Feed the Jobless
Backyards Being Converted to Community Gardens in Santa Monica
FEMA Trailer Transformed Into 'Garden on Wheels' & Donated to Mobile Art Center
The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens

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