Herbs, Sunflowers, and Three Sisters Rising within the South Campus Backyard – UB Now Information and Views for UB School and Employees
If you’re experiencing indigestion, stress, headache, or inflammation, head to the southwest corner of Cary Hall on South Campus. There, in a new garden, you can enjoy the scent of herbs that are believed to help with these ailments (e.g. lemon verbena, lavender, mint and tarragon).
The garden is the brain and elbow smear child of the hobby gardener Caryn Sobieski-VanDelinder, web / graphic designer at the School of Public Health and Health Professions, and Nicole Klem, program director of the SPHHP program Clinical Nutrition MS.
After deciding that the school needed something to beautify the side of the campus where most of SPHHP’s research and teaching takes place, the two came up with the idea of planting a garden.
“There’s a beautiful area in the center of South Campus for the community to walk, relax on a bench in nature, and have lunch outside, but there’s not much to do near Kimball Tower and Farber Hall enjoy ”, says Sobieski-VanDelinder.
After consulting with UB Sustainability, Klem and Sobieski-VanDelinder made a special project inquiry to UB Facilities to get the ball rolling.
“Sean Brodfuehrer, architecture planner at Campus Planning, has found the perfect location for us,” says Sobieski-VanDelinder. “The field team pulled out some old, dying shrubs that were there, and our school facility manager, April Whitehead, made the process easy. It was a very team effort. “
Every plant has a reason to be in the garden. Klem and Sobieski-VanDelinder selected five herbs for their medicinal and aromatic properties. (Rosemary is the fifth herb, along with the four above.) If you know your way around fresh herbs, you will understand the “aromatic” part of the equation. Each of the herbs are also known or purported to have other benefits, such as:
The garden also contains sunflowers and a modified version of the “three sisters” of Native American agriculture: corn, pumpkin and beans. Lima beans are the traditional variety, but this garden also contains beans.
“The maize has developed really well on the plot,” notes Klem. The garden is not a special learning tool, but Klem sees educational opportunities in it: “We will use it as an outdoor space to meet and learn more about plants, gardening, herbs and agriculture.”
The garden’s contribution to the quality of the physical environment is also significant, explains Sobieski-VanDelinder. “This is important for our mental health. This garden not only offers time to relax, but also creates a space for questions and positive conversations. It’s a safe place for faculty, staff and students to work together. “
What happens to the garden after the harvest – and a typical buffalo winter? Klem wants to plant another round of the three sisters and is considering adding leafy vegetables such as kale or Swiss chard in addition to the perennial herbs. Additional gardens – including one that is student-managed – on the South Campus are another option.
Sobieski-VanDelinder hopes that what she calls a small effort can have a bigger impact beyond its original intent. “The collaboration between students, faculty, and staff to bring a little idea to life will hopefully have a big, long-term impact,” she says.