Several colleges of acupuncture and Oriental medicine* in the United States have established student garden programs to enhance herbal studies and to provide a contact point for their respective local communities. In 2001, High Falls Garden (HFG), a farm-based, nonprofit educational organization in Philmont, New York (www.highfallsgardens.net), obtained funding to create or improve these student gardens, and has been offering seeds and botany instruction since then. New funding has allowed HFG to expand these programs from 2006 through 2008.
Dr. Luo Song from the
One of the 15 schools benefiting from this program is the
It was important to both ABC and AOMA to fulfill the specific objectives of HFG’s Botanical Studies for Oriental Medicine program. These objectives are as follows:
- to provide the means and opportunity for all oriental medicine students and practitioners to have hands-on contact with living medicinal plants;
- to adapt the study of botany for graduate-level electives and continuing education in oriental medicine;
- to build the capacity of the profession to assess and monitor medicinal plant quality, including plant identification, cultivation techniques, traditional processing methods, and description analysis;
- to increase demand for local ecologically-grown farm products; and
- to continue to develop connections among herbalists, conservators, and farmers on a local and regional basis.
To address these objectives, the students at AOMA are closely involved in researching the specific Chinese medicinal plants that will grow in
Work began on the garden on July 29, 2006, when a group including ABC staff, AOMA staff, students, and faculty gathered at ABC headquarters to lay black plastic over an area of approximately 360 square feet where the garden will be located. The intense summer sun coupled with the black plastic will work to “solarize” the soil beneath, effectively killing any grass or weeds that are growing there. The plastic has been left in place for two months, and upon its removal, paths will be laid down, beds will be dug, and planting will begin.
The garden will be octagonal, the shape of the ba gua (an energy map based on the concepts of yin-yang, the eight trigrams of the I Ching, and the theory of the Five Elements). The actual garden beds will be located in a 4-foot wide outer octagon containing approximately 200 square feet of planting space. Inside the garden will be a 4-foot wide octagonal decomposed granite path and a central design element that will represent Oriental medicine. Some of the plants for the garden will be started from seedlings grown in ABC’s greenhouse this winter, and some will be started from cuttings of plants already at ABC. Additional plants will be obtained from other sources.
The grant AOMA receives from HFG will cover only part of the costs for implementation of the new
* Editor’s note: In principle, HerbalGram does not prefer the term oriental as an adjective to describe items from
Sarah Bentley, community services coordinator for AOMA, and ABC gardener Nate Sponseller cover the ground with black plastic to solarize the area