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Our Goals

Permaculture design starts with

  • an analysis of the ecological realities of the site, and
  • interviewing stakeholders–to find out their needs and desires for the site.

After gathering this information, permaculture designers draft a “Goals Statement”–which is the first step in design and aims to marry the site and the stakeholder in a way that will meet human needs while building ecological integrity. Below are the goals that were articulated during the design phase for this garden. We return to it yearly to make sure we are in alignment with the original vision, and to see if the vision is evolving–in which case we will update this living document.

The IC permaculture garden is a small but highly productive space. In addition to yielding
fruits, herbs and flowers, it serves as an accessible outdoor classroom demonstrating permaculture principles and functions as a gateway attracting visitors to other food-producing and sustainability-related projects on campus. In addition, it demonstrates an aesthetic and environmentally beneficial approach to landscaping that encourages interaction and discussion about our connections to food and the natural world.

Forest Gardening
The design of this garden uses permaculture and forest ecology principles to create an ecosystem that is analogous to our native North Eastern temperate woodlands but can yield many products for human use, thus demonstrating a mostly perennial paradigm of food production that is well-suited to our bioregion.

Education
Our garden demonstrates the cutting edge of sustainable ecoagriculture and ecological design. It models collaboration between students, campus operations and faculty to create an aesthetic showpiece for campus sustainability, and is destined to become a favorite stop for tours of IC.

Gateway
Due to its central location, the garden is the most visible food production operation on campus. It captures that attention of passersby and connects them to other on-campus food producing projects, such as beekeeping, mushroom inoculation, maple syrup production, organic vegetable gardens, etc.

Sustainable Landscaping
The forest garden serves as an example of a low maintenance, yet beautiful and productive approach to alternative landscaping. Instead of mowing lawn, our aesthetically pleasing examples of polycultures sequester carbon and produce food and herbs for humans, as well as habitat for beneficial organisms without chemical inputs. Our mutually beneficial plants are arranged into “guilds.” Mulch and perennial groundcovers–coupled with drip irrigation–greatly reduce water use. Lumber is locally harvested and milled black locust. Well-organized student labor will ensure upkeep of and yield from the garden over the years.

Accessibility
All members of the community will be able to access the pergola sitting area and enjoy the smells, tastes, sounds, and sights, while contemplating the interrelatedness we share with the natural world.

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