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The Core Team


Karryn on Earth Day with two students in the background.

Karryn Olson-Ramanujan loves exploring the world and its cultures–a passion that has taken her from her home state of South Dakota to live in Germany, Ghana, and India. She began studying permaculture in 1997 and has completed certificate courses in both Northern California and India, as well as several advanced courses in Keyline Design, Edible Forest Gardening, and Permaculture Design and Teaching. Karryn is a lead permaculture teacher and founding board member for the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. She also teaches sustainability-related courses at Ithaca College through Environmental Studies and Sciences as well as the Sustainability Leadership Certificate program. She is currently starting a business, SEED Sustainability Consulting, to offer permaculture design services and to support women and minorities to move into sustainability leadership. She mentored students through all phases of the project, and teaches an 1-credit course called “Gardens: Principles and Practices” during Block 1 of Fall Semester and Block II of Spring Semester at IC.

Michael Smith is the Associate Professor in the Department of History and Faculty of the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, a specialist in environmental history. Apart from gardening with his family and raising cute little chicks with his kids, he helped guide a peer-to-peer teaching and learning experience called “Gardening Principles and Practices: How to Grow Your Own Food,” a hands-on gardening course in Fall 2011, and “We Are What We’ve Eaten: A multidisciplinary exploration of foods that shaped human life” in Spring 2012. He was the “instructor of record” for the Spring 2012 Permaculture Research Team that implemented the design.

Spring 2012 Research Team Students that implemented the design

Madison VanderHill is a Junior Environmental Studies major concentrating in Geography. When she’s not in the IC Permaculture Garden she can be found at the IC Community Garden teaching workshops for the Organic Growers of IC student group or TAing for Michael Smith’s course “Gardening: Principles and Practices.” She is also an intern with IC Natural Lands, where she does mapping/GIS work and organizes trainings for the stewards program. Madison became interested in permaculture during her freshman year at IC when she took a class with Karryn Olson-Ramanujan and, as a class project, proposed that the Williams Hall space become a permaculture garden.

Sachiko Ishihara is an international exchange student of Fall 2011 – Spring 2012 from the Agriculture Department of the University of Tsukuba in Japan. In IC she took classes in various departments such as education, politics, and environmental studies to explore her interests in alternatives to the capitalist economy and to study for her dream to become a teacher. She was also actively involved in raising environmental awareness on campus through IC Environmental Society, was very inspired by getting involved in the maple syrup production, mushroom cultivation, and beekeeping in Jason Hamilton’s Environmental Studies course Farming Forests (also a student-run business: South Hill Forest Products), and deepened her interests in agriculture and the nature-human relationships through our Permaculture Research Team.

Allison Currier is a sophomore Environmental Studies major at Ithaca College.  Concentrating in social justice and policy, she is passionate about human rights issues.  In Spring of 2011 Allison got involved with environmental justice groups on campus and helped recrute young people to national Power Shift in Washington DC.  At Power Shift, she was a trainer and facilitator for the New York Delegation.  From there, Allison started learning about the food justice movement and decided to get involved.  She became a “Green Team” councilor at Winder Mountain International Summer Camp in New Hampshire and worked on the farm, teaching children the importance of local and sustainable agriculture.  In Spring 2012 she got involved with the permaculture research team, helping to create the beautiful ecological design outside Williams on IC’s campus.

Hannah Whitehead is a Senior Environmental Studies student at Ithaca College with a concentration in Land Stewardship and Apiculture.  She has managed the apiary at Ithaca College since she started the project in 2010.  Hannah also is actively involved in the mushroom cultivation and maple syrup production at the school.  Hannah has had an interest in permaculture since she first heard about it her during her freshman year of school.  She has independently studied permaculture practices and also volunteered with a local permaculturist in the Ithaca area: Sean Dembrosky of “Edible Acres.”  When not participating in these projects, Hannah enjoys making music, cooking, reading, hiking, and studying herbalism.

Independent Study Students who worked on the design:

Patrick Haggerty studied Computer Science and graduated IC in 2011. He got interested in gardening when he started to help build the IC Community Garden (also known as the Organic Grower‘s garden), and was inspired to learn more about Permaculture and Forest Gardening when Dave Jacke spoke at IC in 2010. He worked with Karryn and Noah from Fall 2010 – Spring 2011 to develop a vision and design for the Permaculture garden, based upon what Madison had started.

Noah Mark


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