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East Quad Garden

East Quad Garden is an interdisciplinary project conceived by students, faculty, and staff in the spring of 2013. Our goal is to support students who wish to experience community food systems initiatives. The East Quad Garden integrates an experiential teaching method through hands-on instruction that promotes equitable and environmentally sound practices.

Nearly three years in the planning, the garden is an accessible space that features an outdoor classroom, raised planters, picnic tables and benches, and a hand-built pollinator habitat. The garden’s Faculty Director, Virginia Murphy, and local craftsman, Rob Heroux, collaboratively designed the habitat. Through the generosity of the Maltz Family Foundation, the garden has recently added bio-boxes to extend its growing season, and a rain collection watering system. Fruit trees ring the 18 planters that each season hold a myriad of vegetables, while the adjoining hillside is dedicated to over 50 species of indigenous, perennial pollinator plants.

Our community partners include the Ginsberg Center’s Cultivating Community Garden, UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, UM Sustainable Food Program, the UM Campus Farm, and the Summer Bridge Scholars Program.

In our continuing efforts to create new communities of social space, Eco Forum and Food Forum, student led groups, were conceived in response to the garden. Students learn about sustainable farming methods and decide on each year’s crops through a course taught in winter semester, ultimately using the harvest in a cooking demonstration, and donating the abundance to a local food pantry.

Two classes are currently linked to the East Quad Garden:

RCIDIV 350: Corn in East Quad!
Through a collaborative process, students design a sustainable, edible education through hands-on training and education steeped in the annual tradition of vegetable production. Students co-plant the gardens at East Quad and Ginsberg Center, and earn credit through short reading responses, participation in both EQ and Ginsburg gardens, and group decision-making processes.

ENVIRON 390: Please Pass the Twinkies: How America Eats in the 21st Century
Food is central to our lives, culture, and well-being and has been an economic engine for the U.S., shaping our social and political processes. As American food has evolved, farmers, chefs, social justice advocates, and writers have chronicled these evolutions.
At UM we are working for food justice and educating ourselves through hands-on experiential learning at the Campus Farm & East Quad Garden. This course will explore the writers of the modern food movement, visit local food producers, farmer’s markets, and host writers and farmers in our classroom.


Please contact East Quad Garden Faculty Director, Virginia Murphy with any questions.