Theater and earth and environmental studies major Katherine Paterson ’18 moves a bin of radishes into a greenhouse she constructed on the Center for the Arts green on April 16. The greenhouse build was part of her senior thesis, which was accompanied by a performance and harvest on Earth Day. Paterson also is minoring in German studies.
Senior Katherine Paterson’s passion for theater and environmental studies has grown over the past two months while she constructed a greenhouse for an honors thesis that explores and links together urban farming, communal activity, and theater.
On Earth Day, April 22, Paterson presented (at)tend, a durational performance of song, poetry, and spoken word, which unfolded over the course of the spring semester. The project involved the collective construction, seeding, and tending of a greenhouse by students and community members, and culminated with a spring harvest.
“The goal of the project was to serve as an experiment in creative place-making—in creating a space that the larger Wesleyan community helps to build and maintain,” she said. “A greenhouse containing living plants brings people together and links them with one another and their environment.”
The thesis also explored the questions, “Where does our food come from? How does it grow? How does changing our relationship to food affect our interactions with one another and with our environments?”
Paterson’s advisor is Katherine Brewer Ball, assistant professor of theater. The project was sponsored by the Wesleyan Green Fund, the Department of Theater and the College of the Environment.
A photo essay of the thesis project is below (photos by Olivia Drake MALS ’08):
Feb. 29: Paterson kicked off the project inside a cold frame at Long Lane Farm. Cold-frame structures allow gardeners to get a head start on the growing season. Students broke up compacted soil and filled large bins. Paterson taught fellow students how to plant seeds and mark containers.
During the summer of 2017, Paterson conducted field research in New York City (funded by a College of the Environment grant). She interned at Harlem Grown, an urban farm, and visited Swale, a floating food forest. The experiences helped shape and inform her thesis project.
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