UWM breaks ground on teaching garden linked to brewing

UWM has broken ground on the Hortus Academicus, a garden of trees, bushes and other plants used in brewing as part of UWM’s certificate in the Culture and Science of Fermentation. On Wednesday, May 17, seven trees were planted in the garden behind the Honors College, which will provide ingredients that were used for brewing in ancient times.

Peter Sands holds up two of the bushes that were to be planted.
Taking part in the groundbreaking for UWM’s new teaching garden are faculty members Mike Darnell (from left), Peter Sands and Bettina Arnold and Kate Nelson, UWM’s chief sustainability officer. (Bonnie Halverson photo)

Bettina Arnold, professor of anthropology, hopes to use the garden’s plants to create beverages inspired by her own and others’ archaeological findings. By analyzing residue on drinking vessels, her team determines what ingredients were in ancient beverages.

It will be several years before the trees bear fruit, like Amere de Berthcourt cider apples and Barnet perry pears. One of the trees will bear medlars, a fruit rarely grown in the United States that was common in ancient and medieval times.

“We want this to be a living lab on campus,” said Barry Cameron, associate professor of geosciences and coordinator of the fermentation certificate. “There’s the archaeological component of re-creating ancient beers and ciders. There’s also the component of analyzing the soil to see how it affects plants and fruit.”

UWM students designed the garden as part of an architecture and urban planning course. Following the students’ design, the garden will continue to expand as more courses are added to the fermentation certificate.

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