e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

On Campus Actions

Student Garden

The picturesque grounds at ESF's Lafayette Road Experiment Station (LRES), four miles south of the Syracuse campus, are home to research and demonstration plots by ESF's American Chestnut Research Project and the student garden work study program. Started by the Green Campus Initiative student club (GCI) and the Sustainability Division in 2010, the garden is a welcoming and enjoyable place for students and all members of the ESF community.


Each year the garden provides work study job opportunities for six to ten students. These students lead garden maintenance and upkeep. This includes all basic tasks such as planting, weeding, mowing, and general plant and space management. The garden is also frequented by volunteers, and guests from ESF's Center for Native Peoples and the Environment who grow traditional "three sisters" (corn, beans and squash) plantings at the garden each year and share seeds and the oral history of this native people's agricultural technique.

The garden is approximately 1/3rd of an acre in size and specializes in organic and sustainable approaches to food production. Tools, equipment and storage are provided, so students can just show up and garden! The garden is divided into three distinct sections:

  • an annual vegetable garden,

  • a small orchard of fruit trees and shrubs,

  • and a perennial edible forest garden.

More Information - Student Garden

The garden has also been used for student research projects and several courses over the years. Produce from the garden is kept by volunteers and workers, and occasionally served at the Trailhead Cafe or donated to local food pantries. There is an effort underway to provide a portion of the garden's harvest to Beth's Bounty, ESF's on-campus food pantry. Students are also encouraged to study a topic or project that would improve the garden and pursue implementing the projects through a formal process. Most elements of the garden have been added over the years through student initiatives.

The annual section produces traditional crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, herbs, etc., totaling about a dozen varieties of crops each year. Starter plants are purchased from a local nursery or grown in campus greenhouses and transplanted by students. This section also has a beautiful perennial wildflower planting that attracts many beneficial insects, such as bees, to improve crop pollination and health.

The orchard section of the garden is home to 16 dwarf fruit trees including apple, pear, cherry, and peach - all cold-hardy varieties that produce abundantly in New York's climate. Here you will also find many varieties of shrubs and other edible plants such as strawberries, raspberries, thornless black berries, blueberries, currants, and even a grape arbor.

garden fruit

The third section of the garden is the most unique. An edible forest garden covers the north end of the site with a wide variety of trees, shrubs, small plants and ground covers, all perennial and edible, or otherwise useful species. These mostly native plants include American hazelnut shrubs, pawpaw trees, chestnut, serviceberry, plums, raspberries, chives, perennial herbs, and much more.

In total, the forest garden hosts over 40 species of perennial edible plants and is a wonder to explore. The plants and trees are arranged in a woodland or forest structure, with different species arranged to fit together based on plant size and architecture, as would be seen in a natural ecosystem. This unique perennial agricultural system provides a rare experience for visitors and a living experiment in sustainable food systems and land use. Established in 2010, it is one of the oldest and most successful edible forest gardens on a college campus and has many large trees and shrubs that have survived and grown tremendously from six inch seedlings at the time of planting.

To learn more or to get involved with the garden email Justin Heavey.

garden bench

Understand How to Compost and Recycle on Campus

Check out the Zero Waste Focus Area to learn more about the College's zero waste programs and how to property recycle and compost on campus. We encourage you to also familiarize yourself with our goals and progress.

Pick up your (FREE!) Reusable Menstrual Cup

Free of charge and free of shame! The College offers reusable Lunette menstrual cups to current ESF faculty, staff and students. Single use menstrual products wind up in landfills, where they remain for centuries. This program is a step along our Path to Zero Waste and also seeks to remove financial barriers to reusable products. This program is made possible thanks to NYSAR3's College Council grant program.

Ready for a cup? Email scfassle@esf.edu or complete this interest form. Be sure to check out Lunette's folding techniques video!

Reusable Container Program at the Trailhead Cafe

The Trailhead Cafe offers reusable clamshells and soup containers for a one time fee of $8. Simply purchase your containers from the cashier when you place your food order. A sticker will be placed on your ESF ID as proof of participation. Your food will be packed in your new container/s and you will be on your way! Return your container/s for washing and immediately place another to go order (your food will be packed in a fresh, new container) or just drop off your used container in the bin located by the cash register. You will recieve a carabiner from the cashier, which you will turn back in next time you place a to-go order for a fresh, new container.

Students holding up reusable containers

Dont want to purchase a reusable container, but want a low waste dining experience? Bring your own!

Simply follow these steps:

  1. Bring your own reusable container, utensils and mug/bottle to the Cafe

  2. Order your Trailhead meal "for here"

  3. Enjoy your food and pack your leftovers into your container OR

  4. Pack your food into your container right after you order and be on your way!

  5. Leave with a smile on your face knowing that you've helped to reduce waste

Want to help spread the word about this option? Share the document below

Waste free go me flyer

Plan a Green Event or Gathering

Visit the Green Events page for more information!

Commit to Sustainable Purchasing and Property Reuse on Campus

Explore the Sustainable Purchasing and Sustainable Surplus Property pages for more information!