Purdue launches herb garden to promote healthy cooking

2013-08-03T21:20:00Z 2014-02-12T00:15:23Z Purdue launches herb garden to promote healthy cookingStephen Lesniewski Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 03, 2013 9:20 pm  • 

While no Scarborough Fair, Purdue University Calumet has plenty of parsley, sage and thyme.

Unlike the lyrics to the famed Renaissance prose, while rosemary might be missing, tarragon abounds.

The Calumet campus began an herb garden in early July "to promote healthy cooking to season foods and not use so much salt and fat," said Martha Lowry, Wellness Coordinator at Purdue Calumet.

The herb garden is tucked away behind the Recreation Center, next to a basketball hoop and in front of a heavily wooded area, at 2200 169th Street in Hammond. The garden includes cilantro, chives, oregano, basil and other herbs. Some tomato and pepper plants were donated and also planted in the garden.

The garden was intended to compliment Purdue's Health Awareness Workshop on healthy eating strategies earlier this year, but planting was postponed. Because of the delayed start, much of the student population missed the garden as many students left the campus for the summer.

The lack of student traffic helped give the herbs a chance to grow, rather than picked or removed before maturity, since several of the herbs were planted as seeds. Most of the herbs are now ready, while the tomatoes and peppers still need a few more weeks. All the herbs and vegetables in the garden are free for students and the surrounding community neighbors to use.

"So far, nobody's disturbed it," said Matthew Dudzik, the self-proclaimed "Herb Artist" and director of intramurals at Purdue Calumet, who helped coordinate and plant the garden. Dudzik said he was more concerned, however, about deer, squirrels and other wildlife that might eat the plants rather than people ruining the garden.

As for the selection of plants, Lowry, who has an herb garden of her own, said she chose a selection she knew people could use plus some to challenge them, such as tarragon.

In front of the plot, Lowry included a box with an information sheet on the layout of the garden, how to properly harvest the herbs and how each herb can be used to season dishes. For example, according to the sheet, tarragon "pairs well with fish and poultry cooked with mustard."

Since the tarragon and some other herbs are perennials and should return next year, Dudzik said he hopes the herb garden will continue for future years for students and others to enjoy. As for Lowry, she retired at the end of July and the garden will be one of her final marks on the university.

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