About UMass Permaculture Landscapes
Franklin permaculture landscape
Began work fall semester, 2010:
The UMass Permaculture Initiative, with help from student and local volunteers, embarked on the arduous mission to transform the otherwise unproductive grass lot adjacent to Franklin Dining Commons on campus into a highly productive, aesthetically pleasing, educational, sustainable garden.
Installation of the project was split into three phases.
1) Sheet mulch phase:
An ecological, socially engaging, and low-cost gardening method – involves layering (not tilling) organic matter into a pre-existing base such as a grass lawn. The end product is healthy, productive soil from which high quality foods grow.
2) Design phase:
Work with stakeholders to design landscapes which accommodate as many needs as possible while growing good food and maintaining ecosystem health. This year, we held a design charrette (workshop) to encourage collaboration between students, faculty, staff, administration, and local community members.
3) Planting phase:
Beginning in May 2011, we installed over 150 different species (1,500 plants total) on our initial quarter-acre site. The diversity in a permaculture landscape is extremely important ecologically, as different plants attract pollinators, provide habitat and food to many small animals, and add important minerals to the soil each year that regenerate ecosystem health.
Berkshire permaculture landscape
Began work fall semester, 2011:
Our latest project is the Berkshire Permaculture Landscape. Before we did any work on the site, we observed signs of compaction, erosion, and nutrient depletion in the soils. We intend to covert this formally-neglected site into an ecological haven with rich, fertile soil and lots of biodiversity. Just like the Franklin Permaculture Landscape, the Berkshire site will be implemented in three stages:
1) Sheet mulching
In the fall semester, we loosened up the soil so water could seep into the site, sheet mulched to build up nutrients, and built trenches to redirect water flow.
2) Design phase
We are currently in the process of compiling a site analysis of the Berkshire site. This analysis is a compilation of our observations including potential opportunities to work into the design. In the coming weeks, we will use the information we've collected to help us design an ecological, edible garden which suits the needs of the campus community.
3) Planting phase
We begin planting this year on April 23! Watch out for volunteer opportunities in the coming weeks.
Worcester Herb Garden
Began work summer session, 2011:
For this garden, the UMass Permaculture Initiative worked with UMass Dining staff to develop a dynamic herb garden adjacent to the Worcester Dining Commons. The site was designed with chefs’ needs in mind, is easy to harvest by dining staff, is aesthetically pleasing, and improves ecological diversity.