The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

91° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Dining Services grows herbs on roof

Hallie Bolonkin
Hallie Bolonkin / Arizona Daily Wildcat Jon Levengood, retail dining manager, and Louis Andrade, Core supervisor, show off the small, yet fascinating herb garden located on the rooftop of the SUMC just above cactus grill. This herb garden was planted last March, and since has produced herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, mint, and cilantro which are used in many restaurants such as Core, 3-Cheeses and a Noodle, Cactus Grill, and Cafe Sonora, all located in the student union.

Students eating at Cactus Grill probably don’t realize the herbs on their plates were grown right above their heads.

Dining Services at the Student Union Memorial Center planted an herb garden on top of the Student Union Memorial Center in March.

The idea came from the Dining Services and the Student Union Sustainability committee. The garden supplies herbs to restaurants in the union at no cost.

Core Supervisor Louis Andrade and Retail Dining Manager Jon Levengood visit the garden daily. Andrade says he has enjoyed working with the roof garden so much that he is thinking about planting a garden at home.

The garden consists of seven troughs that hold basil, mint, cilantro, oregano, chives, parsley, tarragon and thyme.

The cilantro was purchased specifically for Café Sonora.

The garden uses all organic soil, and herbs are purchased from Silverbell Nursery.

The nursery also serves as the gardening guru for Levengood and Andrade, who don’t have previous gardening experience.

Levengood describes the gardening process as trial and error, noting that the project has been a lot of fun.

“”No pesticides will ever be used up here. We’ve taken a pretty firm stance on that,”” Levengood said.

Because of their commitment to not using pesticides, they’ve had to find ways to combat pests from handpicking off caterpillars and doing Internet research to get rid of gnats.

Official tours are not currently being offered, and the garden is inaccessible to the public.

“”It’s kind of a bummer because a lot of people don’t know about it but at the same time we can control the access to it,”” said Levengood. “”We’d thought about putting herbs out in the walkways and stuff, but then people are dumping their sodas in them.””

Soft roof pads serve as a pathway to the garden. The pads make it so that people can walk to and from the garden without damaging the roof.

Those involved hope the garden will be an opportunity for education.

Dave Mitchell, Student Union Sustainability committee chair, is excited about the garden’s possibilities.

“”It’s educational for one, we obviously don’t meet our needs to sell all the food to campus but there are some unique dishes we make with the herbs,”” Mitchell said.

Employees jumped at the chance to work with the garden, according to Levengood. Now 12-15 employees maintain the garden.

“”If a student or an employee gets inspired and starts growing herbs at home, then we feel it’s mission accomplished,”” Levengood said.

They are hoping to expand the garden and are looking at possible locations, according to Levengood.

Both Andrade and Levengood said they would be happy to give students a tour of the garden if they showed an interest.

Dining Services is developing a logo for restaurants that use the rooftop herbs.

The garden’s next challenge will be to see how the herbs fare through winter.

More to Discover
Activate Search