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The Catalyst

Urban Farm memorial bed planted for employee

A small group gathered beneath the leaves of a live oak tree on the MUSC Urban Farm recently to honor the memory of Nickie Kopacka, a former MUSC employee.

Nickie Kopacka holds her grand nephew while being surrounded by orchids. Kopacka, a former MUSC employee, had a passion for gardening.
Nickie Kopacka holds her grand nephew while being surrounded by orchids. Kopacka, a former MUSC employee, had a passion for gardening.

Kopacka’s friends and coworkers approached the Urban Farm team in early February to explore the possibility of making a contribution in her memory. After visiting the garden, the group decided to contribute funds for a memorial bed that would include a variety of tomatoes, which were the pride of Kopacka’s garden.

Their contribution funded soil amendments such as compost and perlite, plants, fertilizer and trellising supplies. In addition to the supplies for the memorial planting, the group decided to donate gloves, pruners and harvest tubs to support the farm’s educational programs.

Urban Farm’s Mary Helpern, left, shows OCIO system analyst Tabitha Ottiwell the vines on a tomato plant. A tomato bed is planted in memory of Nickie Kopacka, who passed way Nov. 13, 2012.
Urban Farm’s Mary Helpern, left, shows OCIO system analyst Tabitha Ottiwell the vines on a tomato plant. A tomato bed is planted in memory of Nickie Kopacka, who passed way Nov. 13, 2012.

Once the soil was prepared and the weather was right, the bed was ready for planting. After a demonstration provided by Urban Farm educator Mary Helpern, friends and family members kneeled beside the soil and carefully planted tomatoes along with beneficial companion plantings of basil, chives, parsley and marigolds.

Nickie Kopacka's husband, Glenn, works in the garden at the Urban Farm.

The plants will be cared for by the volunteers who maintain the Urban Farm and will be utilized in educational sessions attended by a variety of patient groups including pediatric groups with special dietary needs, adolescent groups from the Institute of Psychiatry’s Star Program, weight management and bariatric surgery support groups, as well as youth from local schools and community organizations.

The harvest will be shared with the educational groups and volunteers, the Hope Lodge, the Ronald McDonald House and the Lowcountry Food Bank. A sign commemorating Kopacka will be placed near the tomatoes each season, and she will be remembered as the tomato-red harvest tubs are filled with produce from the farm to share in creating a healthier community.


Employee Wellness events

  • Employee fitness series: A free Tae Bo class will be held from 12:15 until 12:45, May 15. Fitness expert Katie Blaylock, from the MUSC Human Performance Lab, will direct the class. Participants should check in at the Wellness Center membership desk for directions to the class and will receive a free one-day pass to the Wellness Center. E-mail musc-empwell@musc.edu to register.
  • Worksite screening: A screening, valued at about $350, will be held May 16 at the Wellness Center auditorium. The screening is available to employees and their covered spouses with the state health plan for $15 each. Employees and spouses without this insurance can participate for $42. The screening includes: height, weight, blood pressure and a blood draw for a blood chemistry profile, hemogram and a blood lipid profile. To register, visit www.musc.edu/employeewellness and click “Worksite Screening Appointment.”
  • Mindful Eating at the Urban Farm: From 12:15 until 12:45 p.m., May 16, guests are invited to bring a lunch, sit in the environment of the farm, open their senses and be guided into an experience of nourishment. After several minutes of eating in silence, guests will discuss what was noticed with event leader J. Ramita Bonadonna, Ph.D.
  • Bike to Work Day: Charleston Moves is encouraging residents to bike to work on May 17. A police escort will pave the way from 7:30 a.m. at Earth Fare in West Ashley, over the Ashley River Bridge and through downtown Charleston. The finish line will be MUSC’s Clyburn Plaza on the corner of President and Doughty streets. Healthy snack and bicycle tips will be available, along with information and a chance to win prizes.
  • MUSC Healthy Challenge Tuesdays with the RiverDogs: Tuesday night games will now be geared toward living and promoting a healthy lifestyle and will feature a sponsorship with the MUSC Wellness Center, Healthy Charleston Challenge and the MUSC Urban Farm. Healthy concessions options are available, featuring the MUSC Urban Farm veggie taco made from crops grown on the farm. Special discounted tickets to Tuesday games for MUSC are available at http://cr1.glitnirticketing.com/crticket/web/gpcaptcha.php. When prompted, enter “healthy.”
  • Work and Learn with child-friendly activities: From 9 until 11 a.m., May 18, bring a plastic bag and take home some fresh produce in return for your work efforts on the farm or help gather for donations on certain days. Wear closed-toe shoes. No experience is necessary. The event is open to everyone.
  • Early-bird maintenance: Get your day started with some tender loving care for the farm from 7:30 until 8:30 a.m.,  May 15.

Contact Susan Johnson, Ph.D., at johnsusa@musc.edu, for more information on the Office of Health Promotion, and Suzan Benenson Whelan, at whela@musc.edu, for details about Employee Wellness. Events or any other ideas are welcome.

May 9, 2013
 
 
 

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