Spring Involvement with the Wabash Rooftop Garden


The weather is convincing us that it is now Fall time, which means bundling up more and more, hot soup, hot chocolate, pumpkins, and more. But even so, this should not hold us back from thinking ahead, on how we want the Wabash Rooftop Garden to look this coming Spring of ’15. We learned a lot about what can and cannot grow up on the fifth floor due to certain temperature, sun, soil, and water-related conditions and requirements. As such, we can take that gained knowledge and apply it to the garden as we go into its third functioning year. One focus, aside from getting production for this coming year, is to expand involvement with the garden. With this in mind, outreaching has to start now. There has already been interest from some faculty, staff, and students, but we at the Physical Resources Department within Roosevelt University would like to expand that outreach even more!

Brainstorming has already started, and includes such ideas as including more flowers (both those which are beneficial to the biodiversity of the garden, as well as those which would add some color to the garden); starting more of the vegetables and flowers indoors; and including/ focusing on more vegetables and herbs that the dining center will use (especially basil!). Those currently involved in planning are hoping to hold a meeting, in which to collaborate and brainstorm together, within the next couple weeks, and invite and encourage those who are interested in helping with this process to attend (find out details by emailing Rebecca Quesnell at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu).

Whether you would like to help brainstorm, learn more, or get signed up for helping plant next Spring, involvement is, again, welcomed and encouraged.

If you have any such interest, please feel free to contact myself, Rebecca Quesnell, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu, or feel free to stop by the Physical Resources Department in Wabash B16.

To check out any of the blog posts on the Wabash rooftop garden, check out the following links: https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/wabash-rooftop-garden-efforts/





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Roosevelt University’s Physical Resources Department has developed a Strategic Tree Replacement Plan for the Schaumburg Campus in 2015!

Photo by Mary Rasic
Photo by Mary Rasic

Photo by Mary Rasic

Building upon Roosevelt University’s, Schaumburg campus’ sustainable landscape and recent Level I Arboretum Accreditation, the Physical Resources Department has developed a strategic tree replacement plan for 2015. Our goal is to rehabilitate the local ecosystem, improve food security, provide educational opportunities, and celebrate growing food for the benefit of all.

Some of you may have noticed that there are several dead ash trees along the main driveway at the Schaumburg campus. In part, that is because of the Emerald Ash Borer but it is also due to the islands they are growing in, which have stunted their growth.  As a result, a total of (22) Ash trees will be removed during winter break 2014. The stumps will be ground to mulch and reused on campus to deliver nutrients to the earth.

Environmental Sustainability Student Associate, Mary Rasic, is presently working with Bill Bedrossian of Bedrock Earthscapes, LLC to select native, non-ash tree replacements. The (22) replacements will be strategically selected and located to allow the young trees to flourish without competing with the existing plant life.

Furthermore, Bill and Mary are coordinating the design and development of a permaculture food forest. A food forest mimics a woodland ecosystem by substituting edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. The RU’s, Schaumburg Campus Food Forest will combine aspects of native habitat rehabilitation with 15-20 edible, semi-dwarf fruit trees.

This is a very exciting opportunity for us to capitalize on the Schaumburg campus’ landscape and hone in on the ecosystem services we would like to promote. Much celebration can be anticipated on Arbor Day 2015, as there are monumental transformations underway for the Schaumburg campus.

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Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campus is Awarded Level I Arboretum Accreditation

Photo by Mary Rasic

As the leaves change to picturesque colors and the crisp breeze carries them away, I cannot help but reflect upon what an enthusing summer it was this year. While working as an Environmental Sustainability Student Associate at Roosevelt, I was given a seemingly simple task: Apply for, and attain arboretum accreditation through the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.
Some of you may have already heard, but Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg Campu s was accredited as a Level I Arboretum in September of this year. You can visit ArbNet to view a list of Level I-III Accreditation requirements. I’m sure you’re wondering what Roosevelt did to achieve this recognition and why it is important. The thing is, being an arboretum is not just a simple achievement – it is an accumulation of successes met with long-term commitment and community involvement.
One of Roosevelt’s main goals is to create an atmosphere where everyone can come enjoy the sustainable landscape and learn how they can employ sustainable practices at their homes. The growing biodiversity being cultivated at the Schaumburg campus provides a display of how to strategically choose and place the right species.
Roosevelt University’s complete landscape inventory is based upon field-based assessments, as a means to measure the physical structure and condition of each tree. This information is used for landscape management by connecting forest functions and values with management costs, risks, and needs. At present, the Schaumburg campus has 33 documented trees species. We are in the process of # tagging and recording a detailed description of ~516 woody plants to assess the condition and maintenance needs of each.
Many people have contributed to the preservation and evolution of the Schaumburg campus’s living library of trees and plants. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to present their sustainable deeds to the Morton Arboretum so that Roosevelt University can be recognized for its outstanding achievements to reduce climate impact as a (sub) urban community.

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Roosevelt University Kicks-off Strategic Sustainability Plan Effort with Students, Staff and Faculty


Michael Bryson, Director of Sustainability Studies and Associate Professor of Humanities presents Sustainability framework to students, faculty and staff.

On September 26, Roosevelt University began an inclusive effort to craft its very first 5-year Strategic Sustainability Plan. At this event, faculty, staff and students provided clear guidance for the plan: 1) expand Sustainability education across the curriculum; 2) focus University Campus investments in energy savings, reduced carbon footprint and better use of waste; and 3) invest in an independent Office of Sustainability to oversee projects.

This event was the first of three half-day sessions guiding sustainable actions sponsored by the University. The second two sessions, culminating in November with a written plan, criteria for project selection and assessment as well as organizational structure, is on a fast-track to completion. The University will conduct measurement through AASHE’s STARS 2.0 and reassess the plan on an annual basis.


Paul J. Matthews, Assistant Vice President, Campus Planning and Operations at Roosevelt leads collaborative break-out session on Energy and Climate Change.

Robust changes which have already impacted the University’s carbon footprint and curriculum as it embraced sustainability as a core part of Roosevelt’s identity include: over 30 students have graduated from the Sustainable Studies undergraduate program in four years; two green buildings were built in Chicago; a native prairie was restored, and a community garden established in Schaumburg.

Underlying the obvious are on-going contributions to social equity made by Roosevelt students and faculty in the community, an extension of RU’s strategic goals. These advancements have been funded by the University’s operations budget, grants, and rebates, and made possible by the collaborative hard work of the university’s administration, staff, faculty, and a handful of high-impact student interns.


Mary Beth Radeck, Sustainability Studies Major at Roosevelt facilitates the kick-off session.

Today, opportunities for funding and savings abound, and participation in programs like Retrofit Chicago are an imperative. With renewed focus and sustainability-minded planning, the University stands to realize more energy and resource efficiencies as well as further lower its greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr. Middleton, President at Roosevelt University remarked, “After five years of substantial change, I’m pleased to see that together students and staff will provide continued impetus for sustainable action at RU.”

For more information on Roosevelt University’s Strategic Sustainability Plan and how you might participate, please contact Thomas Shelton, tshelton@roosevelt.edu.


Thomas Shelton, Sustainability Coordinator at Roosevelt leads the discussion on Governance and Policy.

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Wabash Rooftop Garden- Benefits Within and Beyond

Marigolds and more, on the Wabash Rooftop Garden.

Marigolds and more, on the Wabash Rooftop Garden.

The rooftop garden has ultimately served many roles, and with several goals in mind. While growing organic, luscious vegetables and herbs for the Wabash dining center to use has been a priority, there are some not-readily-visible benefits of this garden that tie in with sustainability for Roosevelt and beyond.

Food Security- Generally speaking, rooftop gardens can provide food security in urban environments, and while our grown produce goes to the dining center, the garden out in Schaumburg tends to donate a portion of the grown produce to local food pantries at the end of the growing season.
Urban Sustainability- The rooftop garden also really exemplifies the sustainable idea of a productive garden in an urban environment. Chicago has several examples of sustainable gardens such as, but certainly not limited to: The Plant (www.plantchicago.com), Chicago Urban Lights Farm (www.chicagolights.org), Eden Place (www.edenplacenaturecenter.org), Growing Power (growingpower.org), and many, many more.
Biodiversity, Rainwater, and Heat- Our campus rooftop garden also supports biodiversity (many different insects have been seen mingling with the plant life); absorbs rainwater, which reduces rooftop rainwater runoff; and with the input of Wabash green roof space on floors 6, 16, 31, and 32, the fifth floor garden also helps reduce the heat island effect, which is very common in Chicago.
Irrigation- a huge takeaway that we got this summer is in knowing what can grow without irrigation in the garden. Irrigation can be summed up by simply stating “the artificial application of water to land or soil for plant growth, re-vegetation, and more”. This is a system that uses piped water (unless the use of rain barrels is used). While drip irrigation is extremely beneficial in that it does not waste water (i.e. the water does not evaporate) it is still an artificial process. This past summer, however, the rooftop garden hardly had to be watered at all, as it just guzzled up rain water!

To reemphasize, this year has helped us to see what plants can grow in this particular garden setting, and those which cannot due to soil, light, and water requirements that not present on the rooftop. While approximately 33 pounds of produce were harvested June through September, we plan to up production next Spring using the knowledge we have from this past year! Due to the focus on next Spring, we currently do not have any plans for cool weather production, although this is something we look forward to doing in the future.

If you are at all interested in getting involved with the garden next Spring, please feel free to contact me, Rebecca Quesnell, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu or stop by the Physical Resources Department in Wabash B16.

To check out any previous posts on the Wabash rooftop garden, check out the following links: https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/wabash-rooftop-garden-efforts/

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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: https://rooseveltgreencampus.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/wabash-rooftop-garden-efforts/

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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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