Day 6: Pushing Through to Week Two

The weather was a delightful 75 degrees and sunny for the start of Week Two for Block B of the Morven Summer Institute, which made for a perfect Monday morning for a “plant walk” at Morven! The students of Professor Lerdau’s course, “Food and Nutrition in a Changing World” were treated to a walk around the grounds with expert horticulturalist and arborist, Lesley Sewell, to learn how to identify native and cultivated varieties of plants in Virginia. Starting with the grandiose White Oaks (Scientific Name: Quercus Alba, as we all learned) that grace the back lawn of the Main House at Morven, the class spent an hour learning about the unique features of dozens of different plants — everything from leaf structure, bark, coloration, foliation, germination… who knew that each and every tree was so full of information, if only you know what to look for!

Lesley Sewell – Land Designer, Arborist, and Assistant Professor in Horticulture – led the plant walk.

Needless to say, it was a very informative morning that made all of us think a little bit more thoughtfully about the trees and plants that we walk by each day at Morven. With the newfound knowledge and tools for identifying these various plants, we can be just a little bit more mindful of our surroundings as week two flies by!

Lesley and the students checking out a Southern Magnolia.

In the Farmers Market class, students shared and analyzed their observations from the City Market with the expert help of a special guest, Richard McCarthy. Richard is the Executive Director of, a non-profit corporation that serves as a mentor for public markets. He was the founding president of the Farmers Market Coalition and a co-founder of the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans. As Professor Freedman likes to say, Richard’s a “pioneer”.

Together, the class discussed customer behavior, the social capital in markets, issues of the physical space, SNAP usage, and vendor variety. They used photos, video clips, and sound bits taken at the market as a reference – you can check out some of their photos on our flickr page!

Richard McCarthy leads a discussion on market observations.


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