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Student Sustainability Fund 2012 Project- EMU Herb Garden

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Herb garden sprouts in EMU

Margaret Hoff waters the EMU herb garden
Margaret Hoff waters the EMU herb garden

Until recently, when EMU Kitchen Manager Margaret Hoff ran out of mint, that was it – no mint for the tabouli, the drinks or the salads.

Now all the fresh mint she can handle is just a few steps away.

The latest addition to EMU food service is a big, green, you-pick-it herb garden.

It’s nicknamed the “Erb” garden for the university’s seventh president and it is providing as much in education and atmosphere as it is fresh herbs and vegetables, Hoff said.

“I was amazed how many students have no idea where food comes from,” Hoff said. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I teach people about that?’”

Hoff is a big lover of plants and food, and she has long been eyeing a space in the EMU courtyard for the garden.

The project was funded by the UO Student Sustainability Fund, which distributes $35,000 annually to student-initiated campus sustainability projects. Callie Gisler, a student member of the EMU Board of Directors, wrote the proposal.

Using a converted fish pond as a planter, Hoff and students now maintain more than 20 barrels bursting with mint, basil, blueberries, squash, heirloom tomatoes, lavender, radishes, huckleberries, rosemary – even a pumpkin, which is growing in one corner.

The EMU kitchen is the final destination for everything but Hoff also encourages people to pick what they want to enliven a salad or spruce up a sandwich.

“People keep coming in and saying, ‘that’s so great,’” Hoff said. “They’re so happy to see an edible landscape.”