Seniors Prabighya Basnet and Jenny Zhao are coordinating a rooftop garden project as part of their Senior Integrated Experience seminar (SIE) in environmental studies. If all goes as planned, the HWS community will be inspired to plant gardens on rooftops of new buildings, or retrofit some existing buildings to accomodate gardens complete with vegetables, herbs and prairie grasses. The two will present the community with a sample rooftop garden and information about its benefits by the end of the semester.
This horticultural project was a natural step for the seniors. Basnet planted an organic garden over the summer and attributed the idea for the rooftop garden to Tom Drennen, associate professor of economics and chair of the environmental studies department.
“He liked my garden and suggested that I expand onto rooftops and use it as my project for the Senior Integrated Experience seminar to keep learning what I enjoy doing.” says Basnet. Zhao found inspiration from her summer horticulture internship at the New York Restoration Project, where she planted and maintained community gardens throughout Manhattan.
Rooftop gardens are a growing trend on college and university campuses. They provide many benefits to buildings including preventing storm water discharge and acting as a natural heating and cooling system.
“The plants protect the roof” explains Zhao. “They protect the roof from expanding and contracting when the weather changes, maintaining the structural integrity of the building for a longer period of time.”
Colleges with extensive rooftop gardens include Cornell, Ithaca and Rutgers. Basnet and Zhao hope to create the same excitement at HWS, “We want to learn more about the process of greenification and expand upon possibilities, so that others can complete their own projects on campus.”