A Community Garden at Penn: Greener Postdocs are Happier Postdocs

By T. Cathopoulis, Ph.D. Correspondence: terca@mail.med.upenn.edu

A Biomedical Postdoctoral council (BPC) project put forth by the Environmental Action Committee initiation to go greener. The idea was to find a space on campus that could be used for community members to garden in the hopes of offsetting their food costs as well as positively impacting the environment. This is the initiative’s first year and we put up a small pilot garden just outside Clinical Research Building (CRB) to see if the area was conducive to growing the types of crops people might be interested in. As a test, and out of personal interest, I tried a number of chili pepper varieties (cayenne, goat, fish, habanero, and moruga scorpian) as I figured sub-tropical species might be the most difficult. We were surprised at how successful we were, yields overcame expectations by wide margins. We were able to successfully maintain stocks of several common kitchen herbs (chives, parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, and oregano). We also successfully grew tomatoes, but the squirrels on campus proved to be adversarial. In the future, certain crops will require caging and BPC is actively looking for volunteers, green thumb or not. img_2149

A least successful crop type was melon. Two varieties were attempted and neither flourished. I believe the area has proven itself though and perhaps a more adept hand could see them grow successfully. For next year, we hope to install more permanent fixtures, such as planting beds, and to try other crops. I’d really like to try a potato planter as they can be constructed vertically and would be an efficient use of space. Email me to get involved in making our community greener.

Correspondence: terca@mail.med.upenn.edu

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