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The Catalyst

Master gardener tapped with beautification award

Staff Report

Mary Helpern, R.N., a garden educator with MUSC’s Urban Farm and Grounds Department, was honored with the 2014 Mamie Williams Award from the Community Pride, Inc. of Charleston County May 16 at its 48th annual awards luncheon at the Community Center in Park Circle.

Helpern was among several individuals, clubs, businesses and organizations recognized for creating attractive environments for citizens and their communities. Helpern was praised for her environmental stewardship practices working with MUSC’s Urban Farm and assuming the project beyond the typical “pride” work.

Helpern, who has been a master gardener since 1992, started with the MUSC Urban Farm as a garden educator in 2012. Helpern’s work involved expanding crop selections for the farm to include edible flowers, new pepper and eggplant varieties, greens planted in a quilt or figure design, and other activities. She also helped expand the garden’s composting practices from using various containers in the keyhole garden to introducing a pallet and two-composting system that used coffee step grounds from the medical center’s  Starbucks Cafe to supplement soil nutrition.

Helpern has increased the food and habitat resources for birds, bees and butterflies; added perennia and annual flower beds; demonstrated alternative gardening methods; and provided educational/informational sessions.

She also developed a collaborative relationship growing seedlings and provided resources for students studying in Trident Technical College’s Horticulture program.

Helpern also has assisted the Urban Farm with professional certifications with the National Wildlife Federation, Carolina Yard, Clemson Cooperative Extension and Charleston Friendly Yard.

 

 

June 22, 2014

 

 
 
 

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