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A healthy-living dorm at Johns Hopkins

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You can’t miss the garden outside of Rogers House, a dorm at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It’s not in bloom right now, but that’s where students tend to tomatoes, peppers and “a whole host of herbs,” says resident adviser Carolyn Pearce, a 21-year-old senior preparing to spend her summer bicycling across the country.

Along with a group of 20 sophomores (15 women and five men), Pearce is a guinea pig in what the office of residential life is calling the Healthy Living at Hopkins Experience, which debuted this fall. “It’s not the usual concept of eating the wrong things and drinking in excess,” Pearce says. Instead, it’s farmers market excursions, hiking trips and composting lessons.

Each floor is equipped with a full kitchen, where students can use the techniques they’ve picked up from visiting chefs. A peek inside a fridge revealed no beer, just oranges, organic eggs and jugs of milk from a local creamery. And in the basement, there’s an assortment of exercise machines, although students can also use their free class passes at the nearby rec center.

But the most healthful part of all, according to resident Marie Hepfer, 19, is that they’ve developed a real community. “It feels like a family,” says Hepfer, who applied to live at Rogers as a reminder to exercise. Here, it’s a social activity. “One person says, ‘I’m going to the gym, want to come with me?’ ” she says. “Fitness just happens.”

Hopkins has no plans to expand the focus to other residence halls. But another crop of sophomores will get to move their stuff in through the narrow staircases in the fall. “Healthy living starts right away,” Pearce says.

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