Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Article in LUMINUS

Education faculty’s green thumbs
By Heidi Wicks, BA ‘02

In the brick-wall-beige of the G.A. Hickman (Education) building, the mini-rainforest on the third floor is a welcome burst of life. Almost always, students and profs can be found nestled on the couches, absorbing the area’s natural beauty as their brains benefit from green breath.

A study at Washington State University proved that plants increase moisture in the air and stabilize humidity, in turn reducing the risk of colds and flus. They also improve air quality by absorbing pollutants, airborne pathogens, increase morale, and reduce stress – increasing productivity.

Dean Alice Collins, BA ’71, B.Ed. ’71, along with Dr. Glen Clark and Bruce Burton, BA ’82, B.Ed. ’92, M. Ed. ’94, undertook this I nitiative in Memorial’s education faculty. All three faculty members are avid gardeners at home, and appreciate the joy and beauty that a few simple plants can bring to the work place.

“It was done pretty much on the cheap,” Dr. Clark chuckled. “Myself and Bruce brought in some plants from home. Alice brought in some plants from her home, and we all contributed some pots at first, but eventually the faculty paid for more pots and we’d pick up some plants on sale from Kent, and it kind of just grew from there.”

Literally. One particular vine-type piece of foliage now climbs up the wall and onto the ceiling in the building’s ‘Green Area.’ Moreover, the whole project spawned from a single flowering amaryllis sitting in a window, to dozens of green and flowering pots all over the building.

Numerous plants were created by cutting a tiny leaf and replanting it into a new pot.

“Cutting not only creates a new plant, but also improves the health of the old plant, so it’s economical in many ways,” added Mr. Burton.

For the petite amount of care and maintenance required to maintain a project that brings such pleasure to all who roam the building’s halls, it’s worth it. And if you’re lucky enough to catch either of the Green Thumbs in the hall, you may even get a gardening tip or two.

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