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Campus & Community

Wall of Wellness

Stamp’s New Vertical Garden Promotes Sustainability, Health for Visitors

By Carly Taylor ’19


Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

Emily Altman, biowall production manager for Furbish, installs the green wall at the Stamp Student Union on Friday.

Some might turn to yoga and others to a bag of chips to deal with everyday stress. Now the Stamp is offering a new way to extinguish it.

With the help of a University Sustainability Fund grant, students, faculty and staff can now reap the benefits of a vertical garden installed last week on the ground-floor patio inside the Adele H. Stamp Student Union-Center for Student Life.

The herbs and other plants growing out of the 240-square-foot green wall provide a “biophilic benefit,” enhancing health and well-being for visitors, said John Pickering, an engineering technician at Furbish, a company working with the Stamp to build and sustain the garden.

“It improves everyone’s mood and makes you feel better,” Pickering said. “[At UMD] you got people hanging out on the lawns, so were bringing that to an indoor space.”

It becomes the second green wall on campus, after a “biowall” that the company installed in the lobby of McKeldin Library last spring. Both are LED-lit for 12 hours a day, and function on a hydroponics system, which means plants grow in a nutrient-rich solution supplied through tubes rather than in soil. The plants filter toxins, enhancing air quality in the narrow, enclosed space, said Dan Wray, assistant director for facilities in the Stamp.

Stamp officials won a $15,000 grant in 2017–18 after working with Dennis Nola, chair of the Landscape Architecture Undergraduate Program, who challenged students in a Fall 2017 course to make the patio a more inviting space.

Their design called for incorporating edible herbs, along with philodendrons, begonias, anthuriums and other plants, and beautifying the space to encourage passersby to linger a little while longer.

“We need to approach sustainability in a lot of directions,” said Nola. “It’s not only to improve physical and mental health, but is also a way to raise pride and identity for Maryland.”

Dining Services will harvest the herbs, such as mint and rosemary, for catering and donating to the Campus Pantry, said Allison Tjaden, Dining Services’ assistant director of new initiatives.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.