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UMD's Edible Garden Project Takes Root

The Bike Garden
Students for Sustainable Agriculture Garden
The Pizza Garden

Colorful gardens are sprouting up around campus. In spring 2011, the gardens were chosen by a committee of faculty and staff interested in local food issues and supported by UMD Facilities Management Grounds department. Garden signs, which will be installed soon, are being developed by the Office of Sustainability.

Jonathan Roatch was hired by Facilities Management to act as the student edible garden coordinator and to ensure the gardens success. “The edible gardens are quite a bit different this year. There’s way more structure,” he said.

Groups had to fill out proposals providing the garden’s purpose and a list of plants. Roatch has been involved since the very beginning, equipping the group with tools. He also checks on the gardens to see that they get the care and attention they need.

In the nine different locations, spreading from the library to College Street near the Chester Park Building, each garden exhibits a unique flavor. Here’s a sampling of the more unusual and interesting gardens:

Bike Garden
The staff in the Continuing Education department demonstrate how sustainable gardens don’t need much space.

“We googled unique container gardens and a picture of a bike came up,” said Roxanne Richards, program associate with Continuing Education.

An old bike was donated. Containers, including wicker and straw baskets, were collected. Cherry tomatoes, pepper plants, potatoes, onions, and sage, rosemary, and thyme were planted. This fall, the ingredients will become a potato salad which will be shared with the rest of the campus, demonstrating that big eats can come from small spaces.

Tiger Lily Garden
Professor Junhua Wang and her son, Yuqi Chen, are growing tiger lilies, a species of lily native to northern and eastern Asia. The bulbs are frost tolerant and edible. Some bulbs taste sweet, and some taste a little bitter.

“The plant has dark orange-colored flowers with black spots,” said Wang. “The spots look like a tiger’s.” This garden has a purpose in addition to growing food. It introduces the campus to an exotic root vegetable and appreciation of the traditions of another culture.

Pizza Garden
The annual Taste of Kirby event on September 16 will feature pizza made with vegetables grown in the Kirby Student Center garden. The garden, located by the Solon Campus Center is tended by staff and students, many of whom don’t have much experience gardening. “We’re going to get whatever we can from the garden,” said Gina Pudlick, Kirby Student Center building manager. “Whether it’s for many pizzas or just one.”

Tweed's Tea Garden
Mint varieties and other aromatic herbs from this garden will be dried for use as tisanes (herbal teas), to be sampled during "Tea at the Tweed" events during the school year. The garden is sponsored by the UMD Women's Commission and grown with help from commission members.


Written by Abby Schoenecker. August 2011

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