The Mills College Botanic Garden, a "living laboratory" within the Biology Department, continues to grow in many ways! The garden's plant collection includes a number of California native plants, succulents, ferns, and healing plants used mainly for lecture/lab studies, but also for more specific student projects. The Mills Community Garden is also located within the larger Mills Botanic Garden, with weekly garden gatherings during the academic year.
The summer of 2010 marked the construction of the Gaia House, the garden’s new operations building. After its completion in June 2010, the Gaia House is now serving in many ways: as the center for Botanic Garden operations, to support the Restoration Ecology program, and as a space for workshops, community gatherings, and field study research. The building reflects a number of earth-friendly features, such as passive ventilation, natural lighting and a bio-swale to filter runoff. The construction of the Gaia House is a capstone achievement in the ongoing enhancement of the Botanic Garden, which has included the following actions over the last few years: the establishment of a new garden program and master plan, new paths, new thematic beds, and renovations to the greenhouse.
The Botanic Garden is developing into a center for ecologically appropriate thought, native plant propagation for restoration, and general environmental sustainability. Connected to the Sustainability Committee and the sustainability goals for Mills College, the Botanic Garden displays a number of "green" design principles and practices: i.e., composting, water conservation, and ecologically appropriate design.
Mills community members find that learning and participating in the garden brings a great sense of accomplishment, a connection to the Earth and community, as well as a relaxing opportunity to be outdoors. Students have been involved in different academic studies within the garden, including creating new thematic beds or propagating local native plants. There are always opportunities for all Mills community members to be involved in the garden, from casual volunteering, to academic studies, to participation in the developing community garden space as a member of the Mills Community Garden Group.
The future undoubtedly holds continued garden growth and appreciation, especially as an academic resource that supports community well-being and ecological awareness. To learn more, stop by the garden during the week to speak to the garden manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Learning Opportunities
Dr. Sarah Swope
Botanic Garden Director and Assistant Professor of Biology