Learning for a Greener Future: Week 1
Jun 22

Learning for a Greener Future: Week 1

By Jacob Herrup, Intern Leader

The Learning for a Greener Future internship is a six-week program offered by Phipps to Pittsburgh-area high school students. Jacob Herrup completed the internship last summer and has returned this year as the Intern Leader. In this blog he will document the interns’ weekly experiences and add in a few interesting facts along the way!

The Phipps High School internship has finally begun! Throughout this first week the other interns and I have all started to get to know each other and fleshed out the first of our summer’s topics. This topic is food, and this includes information on composting, gardening, consuming healthy foods and general benefits of plants in our lives. Many of the benefits we discussed involved why plants are good for our diets and how “clean air plants,” such as those in the Nature Lab’s plant wall, improve quality of life in those rooms. This Nature Lab also serves as our base of operations, and we spent time learning about its various functions and why they’re so innovative.

We also were able to plant in three whole plots of Phipps’ Rooftop Edible Garden, where we worked with Farmer Mike in our first hands-on gardening experience of the internship. We’ll be checking the plants’ progress in growth as we continue the internship. One of the most important things taken from this experience was how growing and providing food is a sustainable cycle, which is helped not only by the farmers but the pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, which allow crop’s flowers to bear fruit. In addition, any scraps of food, flowerbeds, or even weeds that challenge our food crops for nutrients in the earth can later be used as compost to improve the conditions in which our crops can thrive.

On our first and only trip this summer to Phipps Garden Center, we connected our close working with the plants in the garden to actually eating them, cooking and preparing our meal with Slow Food Pittsburgh! They helped us understand the gratification involved with growing your own food to eat, I think I speak for everyone in saying we are excited to work with them in the coming weeks. In connecting plants and the environment to our everyday lives, what we’ve covered this first week is just the beginning.

This Week’s Tidbits:

  • Goats like to eat pesky poison ivy! (Learned from Melanie Frank, Masters in Food Studies from Chatham University.)
  • All real vanilla comes from an orchid, and it has to be hand pollinated to bear the precious beans we harvest for their delicious flavor! (Learned from Amy Troyani, Phipps Master Gardener and volunteer)
  • Sixty percent of the world uses only plants for their medicinal purposes. (Learned from Andrea Jackson, Phipps Master Gardener and Herb Society of America member.)
  • Despite there being 10,000 edible plants in the world, only three types, wheat, maize, and rice, are 60% of the world’s food consumption. (Learned from Melanie Frank.)