Building a sustainable community one garden at a time
Over the last 45 years, the effects of air and water pollution on the planet have become a major public health concern. According to Earthday.org, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and metropolitan areas. As urban populations continue to grow, identifying efficient renewable energy sources and creating sustainable environments becomes critical to the survival of our planet.
In an effort to increase sustainability in the Brazos Valley, two graduate students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Public Health have worked closely with several faculty members to form the Environmental Sustainability Group, a new student organization. Graduate students Natalie Nagy, president of the organization, and Chelsea Stewart have worked closely with Natalie Johnson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health department, to increase student and campus-wide participation creating a healthy and sustainable living environment.
“This organization promotes healthy living through the implementation of various sustainability practices and conservation initiatives,” said Nagy. “Over the last year the School of Public Health has worked to promote healthy living and sustainability through campus additions such as the installation of recycling bins, xeriscaping to promote water conservation, the addition of filtered watering stations, and the development of several demonstrated gardens with the help of the HSC’s Healthy Gardens project.”
The Healthy Gardens project is a community garden developed and managed by students, staff, and community volunteers. The project includes students from the School of Public Health, the College of Nursing and the College of Medicine. The students developed a green house for the Bryan campus and installed numerous flowerbeds where they are growing various plants and vegetables.
“We have plans to install additional gardens at both the College Station and McAllen campuses for the School of Public Health,” said Clay D. Hanks, Ph.D., director of campus operations at TAMHSC. “Over the next two years our goal is to have Healthy Gardens activities on all TAMHSC campuses across the state.”
“This project will hopefully grow to include individuals from all across TAMHSC that want to volunteer their time,” said Nagy. “The main idea being that individuals from different schools can have a bed to ‘call their own’ and participate in contributing to the garden that represents their school.”
According to Hanks these projects also reflect what TAMHSC can do to support Earth Day Texas. By educating our students, staff, and faculty on sustainability and the many ways they can improve their environment, these projects provide an opportunity for TAMHSC to educate the entire community on the importance of conserving our resources. These practices will demonstrate how others can create sustainable environments from their own backyard.
“We are so excited to be partnering with others in the HSC to promote sustainability,” said Johnson. “As more individuals join this effort, this will hopefully be the start to many more projects together.”