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reclaiming field for permaculture site at school in Vermont  RSS feed

 
Rob Viglas
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Hi all and thanks Toby for being here this week. The timing couldn't have been better! This idea of mine has been brewing for some time now and I am hoping that I can get some insight from people here. I am fairly new to permaculture, lots of reading and planning with some implementation on my own, so please bear with me! Here's the scenario:

Background

I teach art at a middle school in southern Vermont that was built on agriculture land. A beautiful spot, even better before they built the school seven years ago. In order to build the school the town had to get special permitting which included that a certain amount, 20 or so acres of prime ag land had to be kept as ag land and the GOOD part is that the school is REQUIRED to integrate the use of it across the curriculum. Within the past several years a group that works with older kids started an organic garden where they grow food for community members in need. A couple of years later the school started their own section of the garden. Both gardens are getting bigger each year and the school garden has been supplying some of the veggies for the school lunch program. I am also going to be starting an "art" garden this spring in a bed that was previously used for some heritage wheat trials by on of the sixth grade teachers. My plan for that is for another time. Quick version is I want to build a "U" shaped hugulkultur bed that creates a suntrap. I then want to plant it with mostly edible perennials. So I'll be asking for advice for that at another time!

My specific project

There is an upper field that is south facing and designated as prime ag land. I'm not sure how many acres, let's just say it's big enough for a field hockey practice field and then some. How do I know this? Because they turned the field into just that. I guess the SIX other playing fields weren't enough. Not bitter, nooo. So basically the field was seeded and turned into a playing field under the reasoning that that field was all construction fill so it wouldn't be good for growing anything in.

What I want to do is reclaim that land and turn it into permaculture site for the school. I think it would be a great long term project that would be able to tie into the curriculum in so many ways. What I need is a plan to present to the Ag Committee in order to gain permission to move forward. I am wondering if there is a single resource out there that would provide me with an overview of how to start such a project? Whether or not there is I would love to hear from everyone here and maybe build a plan that way!

I was thinking I would come up with an overall design and implement it in stages, maybe moving across the field in sections. It is definitely going to be a long term project! If the soil is really construction fill then I guess I start by tilling and planting a cover crop mixture that is something similar to what sepp holzer uses on his terraces. I open to all questions, ideas, comments, etc. I'm sick of typing so I'm going to end it here!

Thanks much
rob
 
Toby Hemenway
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There are many resources for school gardens, both how to physically make them and how to do the political dance to make it work, which is far harder. I don't have any specific references (I'd have to do a lot of digging, and I just can't take the time with dozens of posts to answer). Berkeley's Edible Schoolyard is one of the pioneers, but there is little written on permaculture school gardens. If you are new to Pc, start with something you know how to do and then learn from there. It would be a shame to fail right off the bat. There is a teacher in Hood River, Oregon, Michael Becker, who is doing incredible school garden work, way beyond anything else I'm aware of. Google him, as there are articles on his work.
 
Cj Sloane
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Rob Viglas wrote:In order to build the school the town had to get special permitting which included that a certain amount, 20 or so acres of prime ag land had to be kept as ag land and the GOOD part is that the school is REQUIRED to integrate the use of it across the curriculum.

...

What I want to do is reclaim that land and turn it into permaculture site for the school. I think it would be a great long term project that would be able to tie into the curriculum in so many ways. What I need is a plan to present to the Ag Committee in order to gain permission to move forward. I am wondering if there is a single resource out there that would provide me with an overview of how to start such a project? Whether or not there is I would love to hear from everyone here and maybe build a plan that way!
rob


What town?
I wonder if it might be good to link to Transition Towns? There's 1 in Manchester.
The site will be most productive when school is out. Does the town have a summer program for kids.

Ben Falk has done a Pc site for a prison, I think. He's up north (Moretown?)
 
Rob Viglas
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Toby Hemenway wrote: If you are new to Pc, start with something you know how to do and then learn from there. It would be a shame to fail right off the bat. There is a teacher in Hood River, Oregon, Michael Becker, who is doing incredible school garden work, way beyond anything else I'm aware of. Google him, as there are articles on his work.


Thanks for the lead on Michael Becker. I found a great article that was very inspiring! You're totally right about starting small. Maybe a test garden on that field to prove the system works is in order!
 
Rob Viglas
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Cj Verde wrote:

What town?
I wonder if it might be good to link to Transition Towns? There's 1 in Manchester.
The site will be most productive when school is out. Does the town have a summer program for kids.

Ben Falk has done a Pc site for a prison, I think. He's up north (Moretown?)


The school is in Bennington where there is also a Transition group, however they are just embarking on their own edible forest garden in a park in North Bennington. Our school has a great summer program that includes a school garden group and they do a wonderful job and are committed to the garden. I will definitely be enlisting their help and use it as a teaching opportunity. Funny you mention Ben Falk as a group of friends who are all permaculture newbies as well were talking about setting up a visit to his place just last night!

Where are you in VT? We're in Sandgate. 40 mins NW of Bennington.
 
Cj Sloane
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Rob Viglas wrote:Funny you mention Ben Falk as a group of friends who are all permaculture newbies as well were talking about setting up a visit to his place just last night!

Where are you in VT? We're in Sandgate. 40 mins NW of Bennington.


I went to Ben's place for a peak oil workshop which was funny because he never mentioned peak oil. When I asked him later he said it was implied. Anyway, it was maybe a $10 workshop I read about thru the NOFA-VT list. I've had Intro to Permaculture for years so it was cool to see some things in place. His land is similar to mine so I picked up some good ideas, mostly regarding swales, trees, living fences.

There was recently a permaculture weekend something or other in Bennington.
 
Brenda Groth
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this is really great, I'm glad that the school is making this available. Hopefully the students will gain a desire to go on after graduation with permaculture.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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