Despite the dark clouds and steady drizzle of rain, the children of the Lemberg Children’s Center played outside happily. 

Meanwhile, working in the garden on the other side of the fence, Judy Fallows, the coordinator of environmental education for Lemberg, Elizabeth Milano ’16, one of the co-leaders of Symbiosis, and a group of volunteers didn’t allow the rain to deter them either.

On Tuesday, starting at 3 p.m., Symbiosis and the Waltham Group Habitat for Humanity paired up to work on the Lemberg Community Gardens. The main project for the day was building a fence around the vegetable garden. Fallows hopes that this will allow the children more freedom in the garden. 

“One of the reasons we’re putting fences up today is so that [the kids] can run around out here as much as they like and not get into trouble and not get the plants into trouble,” Fallows laughed. 

The fence will have a gate so that with supervision, the kids can explore the growing plants. 

The Lemberg Children’s Center, located at 457 Old South Street next to the Gosman Athletic Center, was built in 2013. It was a 2.5 million-dollar project funded primarily through tuition costs. The center provides daycare for children up to age 7.

The gardens and playgrounds honor the late Jeremy Werl, the brother of Brandeis graduate Daniel Werl ’15. Daniel’s grandfather’s foundation gave a donation to Lemberg which helped it to become a reality.

In an email sent to the Justice, Howard Baker, the executive director of Lemberg explained his hopes for the garden: “It is very important to us that these gardens be a joint project with Brandeis environmental studies students and with the greater community. 

The Gardens are part of what we are naming the Firefly Scientists’ Community Gardens and Playground.  The gardens is part of the essential educational experience children need to appreciate the importance of growing & eating healthy food as well as understanding the interconnectedness of the natural environment to their health and the health of our planet.”

Baker and Prof. Laura Goldin (ENVS) had the idea for the garden and first discussed plans for a garden with Fallows. 

Fallows began her job at Lemberg after spending 8 years working as the Executive Director for Healthy Waltham. “They had this vision to have a garden, so I said, ‘Well, I can help with that,’” Fallows explained.

Fallows loves working with Brandeis students and the community as a whole. 

“But you guys tend to graduate, you know? And you get here and you get your teeth into something, and then you graduate,” Fallows lamented. She expressed a desire to create a self-perpetuating involvement and passion for the gardens, similar to the shifting leadership some of the clubs on campus experience on a yearly basis.

The Gardens will always have the help of the children at Lemberg, however. “We have this captive audience of kids,” Fallows explained, pointing toward the playground next to the garden, where a group of kids played during their recess. “They help out with the planting; they help out with the harvesting.”

Last year, when the garden began, a favorite for the kids was the pumpkin patch. 

The height level made the pumpkins easy for the kids to access, and accessibility, Fallows explained, is a main goal for the garden. Currently, the garden has a lift and paths that are wheelchair accessible. Fallows hopes that this will allow everyone to benefit from the garden. “As we have more [growth], we’re talking about maybe having families take care of some plots as if it was a community garden. It’s conceivable that some community group might want to do that, as well,” she said.

The garden has already experienced immense growth. Last year, Lemberg planted fruit trees and worked on beginning both a herb and flower garden to compliment the vegetable garden. 

“We planted these last year as a stick. This year we got a patch, and then next year, it’s just going to spread. Raspberries just spread like that,” Fallows explained, motioning toward a raspberry plant in the back right corner of the garden.

This year, there are already plans to include asparagus and grape vines in the garden. 

The vegetable garden plots are all facing south, which, Fallows explained, provides the best sunlight.

The vegetables grown are eaten primarily by the children at Lemberg. Last year, they froze some of the produce to eat throughout the winter. Fallows explained that parents and community members also are welcome to take some of the vegetables home.

 Noticing the bite marks in some of the snap peas, Fallows amended her previous statement, laughing, “We do share some with the wildlife, though not as much as they would like.”

 —Brianna Majsiak contributed reporting