Growing Support for PCOM Georgia Student's Passion Project
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Garden Cultivates Opportunity to Unwind and Give Back


September 9, 2022

Students pose in the gardenSquash, tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, rosemary, lavender and mint. These are just some of the delectable foods growing in the community garden on the campus of PCOM Georgia in Suwanee. Madison Cohen, MS/Biomed ’21 (DO ’25), chair of the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine class of 2025, with the assistance of faculty members and students, started the garden as a way for campus gardeners to “unwind, get active and give back to the community.”

The vegetable garden has already proven useful. The herbs were used to flavor the foods prepared by DO students in the culinary medicine course taught this summer. And the Wellness Committee is working with Cohen to host a gardening event for students this fall. In the future, Cohen said she hopes to donate crops to a local food bank or even to the campus food pantry, which is available for students.

Green thumbs run in Cohen’s family. Her grandfather owned a farm that she spent her childhood summers on. She recalls, “Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my uncle and me picking crops from the garden and looking for cool rocks and pieces of pottery that would pop up right after the soil was tilled.”

Plants growing in the green houseCohen’s great-grandmother had a fine-looking flower garden and an “open garden policy.” Cohen said she would let anyone pick flowers from her garden at any time. Her great-grandmother was known for her beautiful flowers and took pride in creating all of the flower arrangements for her church.

Raised in Wellington, Florida, Cohen later moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, before attending college at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. When she moved to Gwinnett County to earn her master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences in preparation for medical school, Cohen brought her gardening habit with her. She regularly tends plants like lemons, dragon fruit, pineapples, blackberries, monstera and money trees at her home greenhouse.

Funding for the initial phase of the community garden is through the PCOM Community-Engaged Faculty Research Fellowship sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement. Professor of Physiology Brian Matayoshi’s soil testing student project, in partnership with Emory University, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency, is focused on lead contamination of soil in the Atlanta area. The group uses the garden as a negative control for soil testing.

Francis Jenney, PhD, professor of biochemistry in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, has been instrumental in encouraging the effort. He said, “I’m always looking for ways to get students interested in ecology.”

Construction of the garden beds and green houseHe added, “I’m very excited to support the garden because I think it’s a fantastic experience for the students and potentially really useful for the community because our students are learning how to grow food. I look forward to helping to expand this effort.”

Along with Cohen, students who have been instrumental in maintaining the garden include Jaci Carithers, MS ‘22 (DO ’26), Sanjana Das (DO ’25), Mitch Karr (DO ’25), Shubhra Rajpurohit (DO ’25), Hunter Vasquez, MS ‘21 (DO ’25) and Sarah Yoon (DO ’25). The beds were built by Cohen with assistance from Karr, Michael Bien (DO ’25), Kevin Wang (DO ’25) and Robert Griffin (DO ’24).

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  • About PCOM Georgia

    Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science, and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500.

    For more information, contact:
    Barbara Myers
    Senior Public Relations Manager
    Email: BarbaraMy@pcom.edu
    Office: 678-225-7532 | Cell: 770-309-0613

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