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UMass Chan Community Garden hitting food insecurity at home head-on

Student-run garden established in 2019

Walk around campus Thursdays at noon this summer and you’ll see a hive of activity on a small patch of land adjacent to the volleyball and basketball courts, home since 2019 to the UMass Chan Community Garden.

MD/PhD students Claire Branley, Emma Holt and Michela Oster spent the third Thursday in July harvesting cucumbers and summer squash, picking flowers and checking on the tomato and dill crop. The garden gives student volunteers the opportunity to tackle food insecurity and prevent chronic disease through diet. What’s grown here goes to the Max Baker Resource Center, a confidential resource available to UMass Chan community members 24/7 via ID badge.

“I wanted to do medicine, but I also wanted to work on something that could prevent chronic disease on a population level. Food insecurity became that thing for me,” said Branley, president of the UMass Chan Community Garden. “I hope in my PhD and in my future career I can work on programs and interventions that get people healthy food regularly on a daily basis and they don't have to struggle with that.”

The UMass Chan Community Garden uses tools made out of guns turned in through UMass Memorial Health’s Goods for Guns buyback program. Michael Hirsh, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics and assistant vice provost for wellness and health promotion at UMass Chan Medical School, founded the program in 2002. Dr. Hirsh is also medical director of public health for the Worcester Department of Health and Human Services.

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Max Baker Resource Center receives large donation from Stop & Shop
Planting celebration launches UMMS student-run community garden
Max Baker Resource Center for students facing food insecurity dedicated at UMMS