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