The Pennsylvania State University Medieval Garden (PSMG) showcases varieties of medieval plants used as ornamentals, food crops, medicinal ingredients, and for household purposes in a stylized setting representing a medieval garden. Since its installation, various colleges within the university as well as community groups have used the garden as an alternative classroom for learning activities, educational demonstrations, and events related to the medieval period. This article focuses on the initial development of the garden design and how the installation and continued use as a classroom has contributed to meeting educational goals for students in the landscape contracting program at the Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Governor's School for Agricultural Sciences.
In discussions among industry representatives, faculty, and graduates of the department of horticulture at Penn State community service was identified as an important attribute of successful landscape contracting companies. To foster a sense of community service responsibility among students, service projects were integrated into three horticulture courses. Fifty-four students in a planting design course worked with township officials to develop a planting plan for a new park located 10 miles from campus. Students planted 120 trees, which were obtained from a nursery operated by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections. Eighty-eight students in two classes, landscape planning and issues in landscape contracting, volunteered to work on a farm being developed as an environmental education center. Work included mechanical and chemical control of invasive species and planting of natives. In discussions following these projects, students expressed personal satisfaction and a willingness to participate in future community service projects.
Plasticulture technology, especially high tunnels for extending the production period of a wide variety of horticultural crops, is an accepted production practice worldwide. In particular, high tunnels offer a production system that minimizes the effect of the environment on crop production and allows growers to continue to farm in densely populated areas. Only recently has the use of high tunnels in the U.S. been investigated and this research has been centered in the northeastern U.S. In 1999 the High Tunnel Research and Education Facility was established at Pennsylvania State University that resulted in the development of a unique high tunnel design. A detailed description of the new design and construction is presented in this report.