A crew of eco-innovators
The cheerful and energetic Ms. Kiefer, who is the mother of three grown sons, has worked in professional landscaping for over 25 years. She heads a crew that also includes Robert (Bud) Saunders, Matt King, and Joe Murphy. This small, hardworking team cares for not only the award-winning gardens at UPMC Shadyside but also the grounds stretching from UPMC Hillman Cancer Center to Shadyside Place, five parking garages, Urgent Care, Family Health Center, the Living Wall outside the Emergency Department — and all the planters that bring such color and beauty to the hospital. They tend the indoor plants for UPMC Shadyside as well as the Shea Pedestrian Bridge leading from the hospital to the Hillman.
The crew has planted 40 varieties of flowers and vegetables at Shadyside’s West Wing patio and in the center island of the Emergency Department driveway — chemical-free tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, and herbs. They incorporated herbs into the Living Wall. They built and planted a sensory garden on the West Wing patio.
In the winter, the crew is responsible for all snow removal, often leaving home in the middle of the night to make driveways and walkways safe for patients, staff, and visitors. “We are all masterful winter drivers,” says Ms. Kiefer, who tries to “think safety and sustainability in every project we take on.” At the Luna Garage, for instance, the crew has created a recycling bucket-and-rain-gutter system for growing vegetables and herbs. They even started a vermicompost bin, a worm composting system for fertilizer.
“We have pampered worms,” laughs Bud Saunders. “They live in a luxurious ecosystem made up of vegetable scraps and coffee grounds from the cafeteria, shredded unbleached brown paper, and food-grade diatomaceous earth. Their castings produced 70 pounds of rich fertilizer on our first cleaning. That was pretty cool.”