Friday, July 29, 2011

Special Thanks

The student members of the the Public Health Garden Club would like to take a moment to thank the pioneer, principal investigator and department from which this incredible project arose: Rachel Tennant, Glori Hyman and the Institute of Applied Agriculture.

Tennant and Hyman's forward-thinking and thoughtful collaboration for a student teaching garden began in the fall of 2010 and brought about the proposals and grants that have helped the Public Health Garden earn recognition and support throughout the university and local community.

We couldn't have done it without you!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Phase One Construction Complete

We are thrilled to announce that phase one of the formal construction at the Public Health Garden is complete! Our retaining wall and permeable pavers have been installed.  The upper terrace is now ADA accessible and ready to serve as a gathering, community, and educational space at the beginning of the fall semester. Above you can see School of Public Health's Dean Gold and his wife Barbara with two very happy members of the Public Health Garden Club, Rachel and Allison.

Thank you to all for your support.  Special thanks to UMD Facilities Management for helping to get us this far this summer.

Next up: building the raised beds for the upper terrace!  

Record Tomato Harvest

Thanks to some great tomato-growing advice from our construction manager, Bobby Tjaden, and the meticulous work of several volunteers, we harvested more than three pounds of cherry tomatoes last night. We also picked half a dozen cucumbers, a squash, some beans, and of course plenty of peppers. Stay tuned for some exciting news about where we took Wednesday's harvest on two of our founder's blogs, Adventures in Container Gardening and Just Saying. And as always, find more pics on our Facebook and Flickr.

Smile Herb Shop

Thank you to Smile Herb Shop for a beautiful donation of herbs for the (newly completed) upper terrace of the Public Health Garden.  We are so excited to continue to check out all the wonderful herbs, plants, and other items they have in this wonderful store in Berwyn, MD.   

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

August Schedule Modification: No Sat. Work Hours

Our volunteer work hours will be changing starting this week.  For the rest of the summer (August), we will only be meeting on site on Wed. from 5:15 - 7:30 pm for work days. Sat. work days have been canceled. Instead we will be scheduling specific work activities and hours to finalize the upper terrace of the garden (ie build raised beds, planting plans for the raised beds, etc.). 

Keep your eyes on the calendar, facebook, and blog for updates and work hours.    

Construction Update: Almost Done!

Construction is moving right along and will likely be done today on phase one of the Public Health Garden. Here you can see Allison and Lauren admiring the work well done:

Notice how the permeable pavers are installed with multiple layers of gravel with the largest gravel on the bottom in order to help manage the water that permeates through the pavers.

We are so excited and impressed with the work that has been accomplished!

The areas where our raised vegetable beds will go are left uncovered - waiting for us to build the beds!

Here is the contractor team hard at work! They have been doing an amazing job.

Final photos are coming up. 

Beautiful Harvest Day

We'll be on site tonight collecting ripe fruits and veggies and doing a little weeding. Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spotlight: Lauren Messina

In the last few weeks, the Public Health Garden and several of our founders have enjoyed quite a bit of press and special attention however we've noticed that one of our hardest working members has been shying away from the spotlight.

Our solution? Throw her in our spotlight and highlight her contributions! Sorry if we make you blush, Lauren.

Lauren Messina, our Secretary and Food Aficionado, became interested in the Public Health Garden project after an evaluation of a school garden curriculum in her Family Science studies exposed her to the beauty and enthusiasm that grows in gardens. She decided that she needed some soil and seeds in her own life and has been sowing seeds in the Public Health Garden each Wednesday and Saturday. Not only has she lent her time, knowledge, leadership and support during volunteer hours, but she has taken on the task of soliciting new volunteers, starting a regular watering schedule, and regularly bringing new ideas to the table.

Last week, Lauren contributed dozens of her home-grown sunflowers to the garden-scape. Like her, they've added beauty and fun to the Public Health Garden. We are grateful for all that you do, Lauren! Thank you!

Great National Day of Service with INROADS

On Saturday July 23 2011, the Public Health Garden joined the Rooftop Gardens and Hagerstown Woods in hosting volunteers from INROADS on their National Day of Service.

Team Leads Erica Boyd and Kelsey Killion helped us organize volunteers into groups that rotated between tying tomatoes, pulling weeds, planting herbs and hand-sanding and painting a bunch of garden signs.

Special thanks to all the creative and hard-working volunteers who joined us!

As always, more pictures can be found on our Facebook and Flickr pages.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Visit From Potomac Valley Brick

During our work day yesterday, we were lucky to have a visit from Alan and Chris of Potomac Valley Brick to take a look at all that has been accomplished at the Public Health Garden. 

The day started with picking up some more materials for the wall from the PVB warehouse. Here is the spot where we picked up some more of the materials donated for the retaining wall:

Chris came to visit the site and discussed with Bobby about the implementation of the permeable pavers and how to manage the water that is collected on the site:

Alan, UMD alum and President of PVB, visited us and gave us the thumbs up for a job well done so far! We are looking forward to having him and his team back to see the finished upper terrace of the garden and learn more from him about how the permeable pavers work!

Of course, we had to show our gratitude to Alan and Potomac Valley Brick with a thank you card and plenty of veggies.  Here is the harvest that Alan took home from our work day yesterday:

Are We Having Too Much Fun?

Perhaps! Thank you for everyone's hard work so far this week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Join us for our volunteer hours tonight (5-7:30 at the garden) and meet the folks from Potomac Valley Brick to learn more about permeable pavers and more. 

Take home some veggies from the garden!

See you tonight!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Construction Recap: What You See So Far

If you have walked by the Public Health Garden recently, or been following our facebook page or here on the blog, you've probably noticed a lot of action!  We are deep into phase one construction for the Public Health Garden, implementing the winning design from Professor Nola's Masters Landscape Architecture Studio Class. Here is a recap of the work that has been done over the past two weeks:

1. UMD Facilities Management identified a major issue under the stairs (shown below) and sidewalk at the top of the site, so a team was brought in to fix the stairs, sidewalk, and build a retaining wall to address the problem:

2. After the retaining wall was completed at the top of the site, another construction team arrived to level the upper terrace of the garden:

3. After the upper terrace was leveled, our materials arrived for the garden's main retaining wall and the permeable pavers for the top of the garden.  The pavers and wall materials were donated by UMD alum, Alan Richardson, and his company Potomac Valley Brick.  All materials were placed in a staging area, shown below:

4. After the materials arrived, the construction team started working on the retaining wall and steps:

5. After the retaining wall was almost complete, a layer of gravel was placed on the site to prepare for the permeable pavers. The gravel is an important part of the paver installation as it will allow the water to permeate the upper terrace of the garden, instead of running off the top. 

Thank you to everyone who is working hard to get this infrastructure in place before the beginning of the semester.  The construction teams have done an amazing job so far!  Another huge thank you to UMD Facilities Management and Potomac Valley Brick.

Stay tuned for more updates and plenty of pictures of all the work.  Note, despite all the construction on the top of the site, we are still harvesting and working in the bottom of the garden.  Feel free to stop by and join us during our normal work hours.     

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wonderful Weekend Workday

Thanks to everyone who came out this morning and helped us pull weeds, plant flowers and okra, and lay down some hay (errr... straw) to help keep the soil in place and the weeds under control. As always, more pics can be found on our Facebook and Flickr pages.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Beat you to it, Grounghog

Last week, that over-eager grazing groundhog pulled off all our blackberries before they were ripe, realized they weren't ripe yet, and left them beneath the plant. This week, Club President Allison Lilly taught him a lesson by consuming the few, barely-ripe blueberries we found yesterday.

Saturday Workday

We've got a beautiful weather forecast and some rewarding projects on tap for our volunteers tomorrow morning. Come on down and help us stake/tie tomatoes, plant okra, pull out a few pesky weeds and admire all the progress that has taken place on the site this week.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Due to heavy rain, there will be no volunteer hours on site tonight, Wednesday July 13th 2011. Hope to see everyone on Saturday morning.

Regular Volunteer Hours Tonight

Despite the (fantastic, amazing and exciting) construction taking place at the top of the site, volunteer work hours will take place as planned this evening. See you soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

PHG Visits UDC

Students at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) are transforming a historic rose garden in the center of campus into a demonstration of sustainable, urban agriculture with a community vegetable garden. Garden and local food/agriculture champion and law student, Coy McKinney, showed me around the garden over the weekend.

Here you can see some photos of the beds:


Among other things, UDC is growing melons, squash, cucumbers, basil, and tomatoes.
Here is Coy weeding:
Here are some pictures of the roses on the site, in need of a little more love and affection.  Luckily, the student group will be working with local experts to begin to brainstorm ways to better care for the historic roses.

The garden faces the center quad of UDC's campus in NW DC. The quad is currently undergoing major construction and renovation to make the campus more environmentally friendly.  The community garden is near the center of the campus (overlooking the ongoing construction) and across from UDC's child development center. This location could set the UDC community garden up for becoming another cornerstone in the campus' move towards sustainability.

Other exciting news at UDC (which could be great news for the efforts of the community garden): There is a new program called the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES).  As the country's only urban land-grant institution, UDC and the CAUSES program could become important champions for urban agriculture and sustainability-  integrating academic programming with research and outreach. The UDC Campus Garden, located in the Rose Garden, is set up to become an important component and demonstration of these principles.

If you are interested in taking a tour, getting involved, or have ideas or resources to provide to this motivated group of students, please contact the Public Health Garden at and we'll connect you with Coy!