Campus Learning Garden

Campus Learning Garden

Created and nurtured by GMercyU's Public Health students 

GMercyU's picturesque, 145-acre campus is the perfect home for a garden. Thanks to the first graduating class of the Public Health program — as well as seed funding from the Montgomery County Health Alliance and donors Richard and Kathleen Target — a large garden of fruit, vegetables, herbs, and pollinating flowers sits in a sunny stretch of earth next to Valie Genuardi Hall. 

Public Health students, both undergraduate and graduate, helped construct the garden's raised beds last spring and planted several hardy varieties to get the garden started. 

As the first graduating cohort of the Public Health program, the Class of 2023 wanted to leave a legacy on campus that allowed them to practice public health and apply the skills they learned.

— Public Health Program Director Sharla Willis, DrPH, CHES 

Produce from the garden will be harvested by students and go directly to Catherine's Cupboard, offering fresh food options in addition to the canned and boxed goods on its shelves.

Spring 2024 Additionscampus learning garden

This spring, students and Dr. Willis are expanding the garden with more raised beds. The garden will include everything from berries and watermelon to garlic, carrots, radishes, squash, herbs, and much more.

"I want students to enjoy caring for the garden, so I have told them they can snack as they tend to it," said Dr. Willis. 

New fencing and netting was also added to protect the garden from campus wildlife, particularly deer.

Learn more about GMercyU's Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Online Master of Public Health

Irrigating the Gardencistern

A new cistern is also being constructed adjacent to the garden, to be completed Spring 2024. The cistern will collect rainwater from the roof of Valie Genuardi Hall and be used to irrigate the garden.

In past years, GMercyU's Mercy Focus on Haiti has raised funds to purchase cisterns to provide clean water for the people of Gros Morne, Haiti. 

The new GMercyU cistern brings Haiti to our campus, helping our community visualize the work and the need for potable water. 

Social Work majors, Occupational Science majors, First-Year Experience students and other students, faculty, and staff are assisting with the build of the cistern under the direction of Structural Engineer Johann Zimmermann of JZ Engineering. 

JZ Engineering specializes in projects for underserved and marginalized communities. In 2020, Zimmermann traveled to Haiti to train 18 masons in cistern building through Mercy Focus on Haiti. 

Interested in volunteering at the Campus Learning Garden? Contact Dr. Sharla Willis at
Help us reach our Mercy Focus on Haiti fundraising goals for the cistern! We are gratefully accepting donations here.