Community Gardens of the DMV: UMD Community Learning Garden
By Johnny Moseman
At the University of Maryland campus in College Park, MD, the School of Public Health set up a public community garden to encourage people to see green spaces in new ways and use them to their fullest capacities.
This garden, located outside of Eppley Recreation Center and the School of Public Health, was started in 2010 as a graduate student project, but has since become a joint venture between undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and staff.
The goal of this garden is to put into the importance of environmental stewardship, agricultural sustainability, physical activity, balanced diets, and environmental exposures into practice as well as serving as a living classroom where faculty, staff, and students can engage in experiential education on issues directly related to agriculture, community health, public health, and environmental health, according to it Facebook page.
“We wanted to create a place where students and faculty could learn about sustainable gardening and the importance of healthy eating as well as letting members take home what they help grow,” Community Garden Director Rudy Dessiatoun said.
Since 2015, plots in the garden have been available for rent and in these plots you can grow your own food or flowers with the support of Public Health Garden members.
Along with community plots, the Institute of Applied Agriculture has five raised beds that grow a variety of vegetables, fruits, and flowers throughout the year that they use to teach visitors about growing.
They also have a pollinator meadow located next to the garden started in 2014, which is an area that ensures that butterflies and bees can continue helping their plants grow.
A project they are working on right now is replacing the ornamental crabapples in front of Eppley Recreation Center with a variety of fruit and nut trees.
In the community garden, members grow all kinds of vegetables as well as flowers and herbs. They also have several apple trees and fig trees.
They have a rainwater filtering system that allows them to collect any rainwater and store it and use in their garden during periods of little rain.
To get involved with this garden, all you have to do is contact the team and you can assist planting, pruning, weeding, planning, watering, or harvesting. Members can also take home anything they help harvest that day. Any food that is not taken by volunteers is donated to the campus food pantry.
“We are always interested in getting more people involved,” Dessiatoun said. “We have lots of volunteer groups that come and help us but we are always looking to increase our outreach.”
About the Author: Johnny Moseman is a senior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland from Columbia, MD. He is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this spring semester.
Photo Source: UMD Community Learning Garden Instagram account.
The Community Gardens of the DMV blog series is profiling community gardens across the DC-MD-VA region. If you have a community garden you would like profiled, please leave a comment below and let us know how to reach you.