MUM alumna Jessica Hernandez

Adding wood chips to the manure spreader to make organic compost using the MUM cafeteria food waste

Using a “persuader” to pound out air pockets in a straw bale wall at the MUM sustainable living shed

Meeting a calf on a farm during a class visit

MUM alumna Jessica Hernandez recently completed her studies at MUM and published her senior project paper on the medicinal uses of 10 Iowa herbs in the International Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Jessica came to MUM from San Antonio, Texas, because she was drawn to learning the Transcendental Meditation®technique and liked the idea of studying one subject at a time with MUM’s block system. She appreciated the integration of the TM® technique into the daily routine. “It’s very valuable to sit in silence with other people,” she said. “It is powerful because it gives the physiology and the mind the chance to settle down and alleviate some of the stress.”

As a teenager, Jessica developed a passion for growing healthy food and cooking, so she decided to study sustainable living at MUM. “My favorite part was the hands-on experience because it’s so engaging and interactive that you don’t forget what you have learned, and it makes you want to learn more,” she said.

To get sufficient practice in organic farming, Jessica did internships at the MUM Student Farms greenhouse and a local business called Earth Wisdom. She also took a break from school to manage an almond orchard, work at a fermented food business, and take culinary classes at a community college in California.

For her senior project, she researched the benefits of 10 common culinary herbs, including basil, chamomile, lavender, and mint. Her paper describes the history and origin of each plant as well as their medicinal uses and lists the advantages of cultivating these herbs in Iowa.

Jessica feels confident about the knowledge and skills she gained at MUM and is excited to build her own food business based on her experience in organic agriculture, culinary arts, and the healing properties of foods.