Fall 2023

Cultivating connection

The Interprofessional Student Garden on the Twin Cities campus gives health sciences students a place to relax, reflect, and get their hands dirty

Health sciences students on the Twin Cities campus meet at the Interprofesional Student Garden to relax, recharge, and connect with their peers.

Where does one find respite after a long day of lectures, labs, and exams? For some health sciences students at the University of Minnesota, the answer is in the dirt.

Started in 2022, the Interprofessional Student Garden gives learners a place to relax, recharge, and connect with their peers. Located near the Mayo and Phillips-Wangensteen buildings on the Twin Cities campus, the garden provides a convenient space where students can pitch in and get their hands dirty, harvest some food for their evening meal, and meet up with other students.

The garden is full of vegetables, strawberry plants, and flowers. Melanie Quick, a second-year Medical School student and copresident of the Interprofessional Student Garden Advisory Board, says the garden cultivates more than produce—it’s a hub of connection and a source of accomplishment, too.

“When you work on a common goal together, you inevitably end up building relationships,” she says. “The gratification of growing your own food, the process of nurturing something over time … you come outside and see the result of your work. It’s something tangible in front of you.”

Last year, the garden volunteers donated extra produce to a “take what you need” food pantry in the U’s Health Sciences Education Center. As student gardeners increase production, they plan to share their harvest even more widely.

Quick says creating a garden on a nondescript plot of land in the middle of campus was no easy feat, but support from donors brought the budding nursery to life.

“It was serendipitous, because one of our donors is a master gardener, and she was interested in supporting wellness initiatives,” Quick says. “Without that seed funding—pun intended—it just wouldn’t have happened.”