In the fall of 2015 The Resilience Hub had the great honor to collaborate with Falmouth Public Schools to design a .65 acre parcel of land that all k-12 students (in addition to the wider Falmouth Community) will be able to access, learn from and grow many different crops on. The Falmouth School system is not new to school gardens as they have been a gardening with students since 2002 and participating in the Farm-to-School movement. The Farm-to-School Committee invited The Resilience Hub to help convene a participatory process that would engage all stakeholders and inform the final design. Some of the strategies that Rachel Lyn Rumson and I used included:
- Distributed a survey to collect input from community members, parents, staff, administrators, and school board members
- Met with 6th and 12th graders to discuss Permaculture and gain feedback from the students on what they wished to see in the new growing space
- Conducted interviews with 10 stakeholders from the survey group
- A draft review meeting was held with students, staff, and community members, showcasing what students had learned during the process, results of many site visit and analysis of the site, and draft design element ideas
Key features of the design include a focus on soil culture, food production, multiple outdoor classrooms, laboratories and zones; including a kiwi classroom, a wildlife pond, an observation area for student exploration, data collection, and physically engaging with concepts such as microclimates, fungal networks, sun path, shadows, and wind direction, multifunctional windbreaks,edible hedges, and mini agroforestry learning labs. Other elements in the design include a composting toilet, low maintenance rainwater catchment systems and an information kiosk nested in a mini-orchard.
The project culminated in January with a community event unveiling the final design. Community members, parents, students and staff came out to check out the design, ask questions, and sample some yummy food prepared by the garden manager and nutrition director (a lot of which was made with the most local ingredients; those straight from the schools gardens!)
In the photo at right, high school students present the design to some kindergarteners and field some very important questions! It was quite a sight to see how invested the High School students were teaching the younger ones that will likely get to play a large part in the planting, learning, and growing in this new space.
We are excited to see this design take shape on the ground as this final draft is just the beginning. The ground is awakening and as students, teachers, and staff engage with the land and practice the ethics of earth care, people care and fair share the design will evolve and grow along with the people caring for this patch of campus.
-Julie McLeod, Design Coordinator for The Resilience Hub