Public Health Garden

If you're wondering why there were so few posts on Just Saying in 2011, check out this post on the University of Maryland Wellness Coalition website about the Public Health Garden. Learn more about the wonderful project that has captured this blogger's time, energy, love, attention and page views on the project blog.

About the Public Health Garden

The Public Health Garden at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), is a student teaching and community garden demonstrating sustainable agriculture and environmental best practices in support of public, environmental and community health. Our mission is to: 

  1. Exemplify the values of environmental stewardship, agricultural sustainability, physical activity, balanced diets, and environmental health
  2. Serve as a living classroom where faculty, staff, and students can engage in experiential education on issues directly related to agriculture and community, public, and environmental health
  3. Become a central meeting point and community building tool for the School of Public Health and the UMD community

Allison Lilly: Co-President, Contributing Blogger, & Garden Enthusiast
Maryland Institute of Applied Environmental Health, School of Publuc Health 

I love this project. The Public Health Garden is a wonderful example of what can happen when a community comes together in support of a shared goal. We are so thankful for all of the support we continue to recieve from the broad UMD community to get our first garden season started.

My interest in the Public Health Garden stems from my passion for food, agriculture, community health and the environment. I am currently studying the intersection of these areas at the Maryland Institute of Applied Environmental Health where I am pursuing my Master of Public Health degree.  I am also busy working with UMD Dining Services in support of their sustainability programs.

You can find me running around campus meeting with our many collaborators, emailing and on the phone reaching out to supporters and volunteers, and (of course) playing with the weeds, plants, and vegetables growing in the garden. I enjoy cooking and will continue to share recipes from the garden on my blog and tastes of what I'm cooking during our club meetings and events.

Rachel Tennant: Co-President and Grant Specialist
Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology: College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

An environmentalist at heart, I am a novice gardener who loves to share my enthusiasm for the planet through local foods and environmental education. I think that anything is possible if we all work together and I am proud to be part of the ever-growing collaborative web that is the success of the Public Health Garden.

My passion for community teaching gardens began at Florida International University in Miami.  The Organic Garden at FIU is where I planted my first seed and finally learned that local foods really can start in your backyard. Their successful integration of academic and recreational gardening inspired me to apply for a grant from the Office of Sustainability Green Fund so that members of the UMD community can have the same experience I had.

These days you can find me planning projects and events. Some for the Public Health Garden and some for separate endeavors to enrich gardens and ecosystems elsewhere, like Peru. I'm always only an e-mail away and encourage thoughts, ideas, and questions from anyone.  :-)

Deborah Dramby: Farm Manager, Contributing Blogger & Photographer
Institute of Applied Agriculture: Sustainable Agriculture

Every patch of land I cultivate and every topic I write about (on this blog and my own) is a learning experience that I trust will help me reach my academic goals in the classroom and my growing goals in rural, suburban and urban landscapes. I think an appreciation for nature and an understanding of the effects - positive and negative - that agriculture can have on our soil and water is the greatest gift you can give the next generation. I am proud to be in the business of conservation and cultivation and so deeply invested in the Public Health Garden.

Academically, I have the honor of being the first Sustainable Agriculture student at UMD's Institute of Applied Agriculture yet am committed to obtaining a deep understanding of conventional farming practices as well as promoting sustainable ones. Perhaps the most important lessons I have learned along the way are that farmers hold a lot less power than consumers and that we should each ask questions, learn daily, eat consciously and conscientiously, and vote with our forks.

You can find me on site helping out at harvests, nurturing plants and beneficial insects, re-potting seedlings in the greenhouse, in my office at the Institute of Applied Agriculture (Jull Hall), hanging out somewhere with theEco-Goats, or out and about in the community with the garden girls.

Lauren Messina: Secretary & Food Aficionado
Family Science, School of Public Health

With no piece of land to call my own, the Public Health Garden came into my life at the perfect time. I have immensely enjoyed being a part of this project from the beginning - to see how an idea carried by a small group of women can bloom into a beautiful garden. The collaborations across campus have made this project the success it has been, thus far. It's inspiring to see so many groups of people invested in the Public Health Garden.

My interest in the initiative began after working on an evaluation of a school garden curriculum. Seeing how excited the children were about their garden, I decided I needed some soil and seeds in my own life. I am a doctoral student in the Department of Family Science and am involved in several research projects which seek to bridge the study of families and health. We are interested in learning about parents can foster healthy food and nutrition behaviors in their children.

You can find me engaged in some public relations for the garden - talking about it to anyone who will listen! As well as keeping our task list up to date and organized, drafting email correspondence to collaborators, recruiting volunteers from the Family Science department and beyond, and establishing partnerships with schools in the community. Also, I'm always happy to get my hands dirty in the garden and to eat whatever delicious dish Allison makes from our harvests.

Rachel Rosenberg Goldstein: DC Community Liaison and Environmental Experiential Education Devotee
Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health/Epidemiology, School of Public Health
I once dreamed of a garden near the School of Public Health where the campus community could come together over sustainably grown food and discuss environmental health issues. There could not have been a garden more perfect for this than the Public Health Garden. I love the idea of a working garden on a campus that was founded as a land grant institution in the middle of a metropolitan area. It is incredible to see how the Public Health Garden has brought together so many people from different parts of campus with so much excitement and enthusiasm.
Sustainable agriculture and gardening fit into my interests and academic pursuits related to environmental health. I feel strongly that the best way to inspire others about the environment is to give them a personal connection to the environment. I am currently a Ph.D. student working on a range of environmental health issues related to foodborne illness and water quality. I am interested in combining academic research with education, communication, and hands-on experience.
You can find me filling in on odd jobs here and there, screening DC listservs for garden related events and give-aways, and looking for ways to collaborate with youth educators on campus.

Robert Tjaden III: Construction Manager (and the glue that holds the whole garden together) 
UM Landscape Architect, Facilities Management 

As a Landscape Architect and strong supporter of edible landscapes and living classrooms, I couldn't imagine a better project in which to focus my free time, contribute construction know-how, and further the sustainability of the University of Maryland campus. As an undergraduate here at the university, I spent years studying the topography of the land and how structures, both natural and man-made, are integrated into the multi-dimensional scape of this property. As an Arboretum, the campus is already an extraordinary environmental steward. I'd like to see us build upon that in the coming years and become a leader in edible outdoor spaces that contribute to sustaining a healthy campus community.

On campus, you can find me working with Facilities Management, coordinating with the Arboretum, managing construction projects on the PHG site, engaging students and volunteers, overseeing plans for garden expansion and modifications, and continuing my own education. Off campus, you can find me experimenting with local, in-season produce in the kitchen, touring local vineyards and farms in the area, and reaching out to like-minded community members.