Help Yourself Garden

Why a garden for a School of Dentistry?

There was a beautiful space for a garden directly across our patient parking area from the main doors of building. It had great soil, southern exposure, ADA compliant garden bed, and sprinklers. Why not build a vegetable garden there? So in 2013, I secured permission from various university entities and began the Help Yourself garden.

Each year, the garden has a theme, with various sections of the long, narrow bed marked with explanatory signs. Themes so far have included:

  • continents, displaying plants in the continents of origin
  • recipes from around the world, with a blog of recipes
  • colors, with rainbow-hued vegetables
  • “Garden of Science,” with signs explaining plant families, fractals, Gregor Mendel’s pea plant-based genetic experiments, and a Three Sisters Garden
  • “Five Senses” garden, with plants to touch, taste, smell, see, and even hear

Staff, students, faculty, patients, and passersby visit the garden at a rate of about 50 people a day to enjoy:

  • the stress-busting joy of interacting with nature right outside the door
  • bites of fresh produce
  • education about how to garden
  • collegial interactions across traditional group boundaries
  • rest, play, and creativity, not bounded by the usual millimeter-specific strictures of dental education

Garden links

Published by Emily

I'm an instructional designer and gardener based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Free moments find me in my garden or the forest, hugging trees and all that jazz.

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