Last spring UMD staff, students and faculty collaborated to create a temporary rooftop edible garden above one of the large Life Sciences lecture halls. The project, proposed by facilities employee Steve Schilling and coordinated through the Office of Civic Engagement and Facilities Management, replaced a large swath of pavement with raised beds made of straw bales wrapped in burlap coffee bags donated by local roaster, Alakef Coffee.
Facilities staff provided the logistical support and regular watering during the week, and students, staff, faculty and other volunteers did the planting, weeding, and harvesting. Food from the gardens was used by the student group Students for Sustainable Agriculture to make salsa and other dishes that were given away to other students at evening events on campus such as grocery bingo.
In addition to growing food, the temporary gardens help reduce impervious service, thus helping to address campus rainwater run-off. Facilities also collected an interesting additional set of data about the effects of the rooftop garden by placing temperature sensors around the site, including under the soil, to see what impact the gardens had on reducing the heat island effect. The data is available from facilities management.
Garden planning for 2011 is underway. This collaborative process between facilities staff, students and faculty has been exciting and fruitful, both for facilities sustainability goals and for education of students. If you are interested in participating in the project, either individually, or with a class, you can contact Candice Richards, Associate Director of Facilities (email@example.com) or David Syring, Assistant Professor of Anthropology (firstname.lastname@example.org).