Production on the Wabash Rooftop Garden


As Spring has turned into Summer, and Summer into Fall, vegetable production for the Roosevelt University Wabash rooftop garden is nearing the end for this growing season. This Spring marked the second year of growing on the rooftop garden, and through trial and error, much has been learned as to what can and cannot be grown up on the fifth floor of Wabash, where the sun glares down, and where winds can get particularly vicious on windy days.

This past year has been an ambitious one, and to try and learn what could take root and grow, and what would fail to do so, we planted a variety of vegetables and herbs such as: Sage, thyme, oregano, basil, broccoli, kale, spinach, lettuce, marigolds, nasturtium, broccoli sprouts, carrots, peas, squash, okra, cucumbers, onions, watermelon, and green beans. Out of those, the basil was originally unsuccessful and had to be replanted, and the squash, onions, and watermelon fell short of growth. Others such as the carrots, peas, and green beans grew well, but produced more greenery than anything, and were not an efficient use of the space due to that fact. All in all though, through the efforts of several individuals, the garden produced about 33 pounds of produce in its second year running! Additionally, we have learned a great deal and will put that knowledge into efforts for the garden next Spring.

In addition to planting a variety of vegetables, we attempted to grow on trellises. While the wind was aggressive, the trellises were appropriately anchored down and worked rather well. However, such factors as the soil depth, water inconsistency, and the angle in which the sun hit or did not hit the garden may have played a role in why the trellised peas and green beans produced more greenery than anything.

There are several benefits of rooftop gardens as well, so be sure to check out an upcoming blog post which will include the benefits of these gardens, including the one located on the 5th floor of Wabash.

To check out any previous posts on the Wabash rooftop garden, check out the following links:

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Broccoli, sage, chive blossoms and thyme


Mary Beth Radeck and Kevin Markowski harvest 2.6 lbs of greens from the rooftop.

Rooftops aren’t just for runoff anymore. But even more than a green roof, the Wabash building has a garden that’s produced more than 22 lbs of vegetables the first month this year. Herbs and veggies grown here are also served here at the Dining Center.

Visible from the 5th floor Fitness Center, thyme, sage, chive and oregano herbs are growing in abundance. Greens such as broccoli sprouts, arugula, and baby spinach and beans and peas have already been harvested. Other veggies which have been seeded but are not yet ready to pick: lettuce, kale, endive, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, cucumbers, okra, squash, cucumbers and watermelon.

Fresh produce from the garden is tastier and more healthful than those shipped from across the country. Look for recipes including these fresh-from-the-rooftop veggies at the Dining Center soon!

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Roosevelt University’s RUrbanPioneers Community Garden Drip Irrigation is here!

The Sustainability team at Roosevelt’s Schaumburg campus teamed up in late June to install the first-ever drip irrigation in the community garden.


Mary Rasic, Kevin Markowski (shown) and Pedro Perez will no longer be filling barrels twice a week.

Previously, water barrels were filled and irrigation consisted of hand-carried buckets, a time intensive practice.

Two years in the making, Sustainability interns Mary Beth Radeck, Kevin Markowski and Mary Rasic partnered with Pedro Perez, Chief Engineer at Schaumburg to plan and execute this improvement. The team expects to save up to 50% of the water used to irrigate the garden this year—reducing the effort and costs of irrigation, but also improving the environment, too.


First, trenches were dug for irrigation lines.

Drip irrigation delivers water slowly, at low pressure near the plant’s roots so that none is wasted and less water evaporates. Usually used with flower beds and gardens or hard to water areas, drip is more efficient and effective than spray irrigation, and much more precise by allowing maximum control over how much water is given to each individual plant. Control of the water reduces runoff and erosion, as well.


Irrigation spigots provide water to each garden plot. Gardeners install micro-tubing which delivers water to each plant.

A drip system is easy to install and even available at local home improvement centers such as Home Depot. Every garden should have one, especially as water costs rise and the risks to Lake Michigan water levels continue.

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How 1 RU Student Saved 551 Metric Tons of Lake Michigan Water with One Simple Act


Upon moving into the Wabash Building this summer I noticed many changes. I quickly learned that moving from the University Center to the Wabash building required an open mind, and a willingness to adjust to a greener lifestyle. Life at the UC was quite comfortable; after all I had lived there for three years.

High powered showers, bright lights, and smooth floors were everyday luxuries that I found quite enjoyable. If I had to choose my favorite UC feature, it would have been the powerful shower head that nearly knocked me down every time I turned it on and all of my shampoo and conditioner quickly rinsed out my hair without hesitation. I must admit that the low pressure shower head in the Wabash Building kind of turned me off my first couple weeks living here. Sadly, I was ignorant to the massive amount of water I was using at the UC, and never thought about how much water I could be saving.

After educating myself by comparing the water features of the University Center to my current living space in the Wabash Building, I was shocked to find this difference. The LEED Gold Wabash building saves more than 20% potable water than Chicago code through the use of aerators, low-flow pumping and plumbing fixtures. What simpler way to save water than by changing the pressure of a shower head? You never know how much water you could be saving.

While living at the University Center I wasted at least 140,529 gallon of water per year, which is equivalent to 20,250 two liter size bottles of soda. Since moving to the Wabash Building two months ago I have already saved 145,783 gallons of water.

My entire outlook on my shower is now changed. I now understand the green initiative of the Wabash building and feel proud of myself for being a part of this initiative. So far this summer I have learned to not only have an open mind about my current living space, but also research the features of it.

Submitted by Taylin Humphrey, Roosevelt Student and budding Sustainability blogger


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Harvesting begins at RU’s Wabash rooftop

Interrupted only by a noon-hour rainstorm today, we harvested othe first 4 lbs of produce from the fifth floor rooftop at Wabash. Herbs and greens were donated to Chef Charlie at Roosevelt University’s Wabash Dining Center on the 2nd floor and included: thyme, baby arugula, broccoli sprouts, chive, chive blossoms, baby spinach and lettuce.

Most of the 4 lbs were broccoli sprouts and chive, a prolific variety of onion which is blooming on the roof now. The chive, thyme and arugula smelled wonderful!

It’s possible this week’s customers may find rooftop grown, chive blooms, arugula, spinach and broccoli sprouts in their next lunchtime salad. Yum.

Garden fact:
Broccoli is a cool-season crop that is grown in cooler weather and is a member of the cabbage family and is rich in vitamins.

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Wabash Rooftop Garden Efforts

Earth Week and Bike2Campus Week were both just two weeks ago, right before finals week. As such, students, faculty, and staff of Roosevelt University were encouraged to join in on the Wabash rooftop garden planting prep days: Tuesday, April 22nd (Earth Day) and Thursday, April 24th.Wa

On Tuesday, myself, Rebecca Quesnell, and Tom Shelton, the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator in the Department of Physical Resources, spent about an hour moving 2ft by 2ft by 8in plots that had a compost and standard soil mix in some, while others primarily had a gravel mix. Later on, Sustainability studies major Kyle Huff also came out the rooftop garden and helped put together pea trellis. Kyle interned at Growing Power here in Chicago last summer and got quite a bit of gardening experience doing so. Herbs were also planted such as basil, oregano, sage, and thyme.

Thursday the 24th had a great turnout too! Professor Aaron Shoults-Wilson, his wife, and their young son showed up to help with planting, as well as Noe Villagomez, who is the food and beverage manager for the Auditorium Theatre, and Sophia Johnson and Ian Todd, students here at Roosevelt University. There was a lot going on Thursday day in terms of what needed to be done and what got done. Another trellis was put together, this time a leaning trellis for black beauty squash- a summer squash- to grow up and along, and it was strategically fastened since it can get pretty windy up on the rooftop! Many vegetables were also planted such as kale, arugula, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, peas, and carrots. Other vegetables that will be planted in the coming weeks, and in early summer include the following: Nasturtium, squash, zucchini, cucumber, onion (two types), watermelon, green beans, okra, broccoli sprouts, endive, and marigolds and possibly tomatoes and bell peppers. The goal is to get production this year and to have the Wabash dining center utilize any and everything that will take up there.

I have high hopes for the rooftop garden this year, and while I wish I could see it through, Mary Beth Radeck, who helped jumpstart the prairie restoration, prairie walk, and community garden, among various other projects out at Schaumburg, will be seeing it through. Only time will tell how things will go, as it is a trial and error process to see what will take five stories up, and what will not. Trellises are a new addition this year, and they will hopefully allow us to keep growing even higher up on our vertical building.

If you would be interested in helping tend to the Wabash rooftop garden anytime over the summer, then contact Mary Beth Radeck at There will be a group of individuals switching on and off in tending to the garden and Mary Beth will be in charge of those efforts. Have a fun and safe summer!

Also, pictures to come!

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Earth Week/Bike2Campus Week 2014!!!

Earth Week/Bike2Campus Week 2014!!!

Join Roosevelt, tomorrow the 17th for Water Conservation Day as well as to help kick off Earth Week/Bike2Campus Week 2014! This event will be taking place from 3-5pm in the Auditorium Building, Fainman Lounge. Stop on by and grab some ideas on how to conserve water and see what all will be going on next week!!!

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