10 February 2010

East 40 Update

Last week a colleague and I met with one of the academic deans to discuss our proposal to reclaim a piece of land owned by the school that is mowed and sprayed and nothing else. The feedback we received has us going in a very positive direction. One suggestion she gave us was to have a "phase one" plan to our proposal that asks for a small part of the property as a sort of test for the eventual large scale project. She said the administration would be more likely to try small before they go big.

The question now is what small piece would we want to ask for and what would we do with it. I'm thinking that the area north of the block of trees would be a good place to start. That little splotch that looks like a dirty thumbnail print is actually a giant puddle. I would like to dig the puddle out and convert it into a pond so we can attract more wildlife and also so we have access to water. Access to water is big.

Beyond that, I'm not quite sure where to go. I think it's one of those cases where there are so many possibilities that it's hard to pick just one. We do have a list of wants/wishes:

  • a community garden
  • berries
  • flowers
  • compost
  • water
  • bees
  • bird sanctuary
The next step will be to draw a map of how the space would be used. I'll try to get an accurate measurement of the area and then turn the above photo into a grid. When I get that done I'll repost it and ask you all for some input. In the meantime, if you have any ideas of how to use one or two acres with the wish list in mind, I'm all ears.


Laurel said...

Whoa, that's exciting! Glad to hear that the plan is moving forward.

kate franz mickaboo.org said...

you might want to look into how the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is designed. It has many things built into it, and its beautiful.

How exciting about your proposal. Good luck!

Era said...

Wow, this is so exciting, thanks for keeping us posted. I live in Philly and work with community gardens so I'm especially excited to see what you do with so much land!

I think it would be great to have part of it be a community garden - that way you're handing over some of the maintenance to other people (have you thought about who would be in charge of this space once it's turned over to you?). the community gardeners take care of their plot and you build support within the faculty, staff, and student body by offering space to them for gardening.

I also really like the "start small" philosophy - prove yourself and they will give you more in the future. I think you can incorporate a small orchard and an apiary area on the other side (away from the community garden) - just make sure you leave yourselves room to expand in the second phase (meaning, don't block any part of the garden in with your design).

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You might want to be careful with a pond if they will still be spraying

Kelly said...

Hey Laurel,
Yeah, I'm pretty stoked. Meg and I just volunteered to do a thing at Crayola where we talk to kids about gardening and the environment. My plan is to take this opportunity to survey the parents for ideas of what they would want in a community garden and also from non-credit gardening courses.

Hello Kate,
Will do. I gotta say that Golden Gate wasn't even on my radar. If I have questions, I hope you don't mind if I bounce them your way.

Hello Era,
Before we moved to Bethlehem, I used to take the R2 from 30th Street Station to Curtis Park everyday. For me, there is something about parts of the property along that track that screamed community garden. I would daydream about it all the time. I actually did a post about it a long ways back. I thought I would help organize folks to reclaim the area and use it for local agriculture. Unfortunately we didn't live close to Philly long enough to get anything going.

The East 40 project, if it flies, will have a community garden. I'll be the point person once the area is up and running.

Blocking ourselves in is something we certainly would like to avoid. I'll share the layout when it gets drawn up. If you see trouble, or maybe a missed opportunity, please shoot me a warning.

Hello Anon,
The termination of all spraying would be the first item on our agenda. A chemical bath would be pretty terrible :)

Frustrated Farmer Rick said...

My 2 cents is that you might want to start a bit more remote from the wooded area if there are deer in your area. Otherwise you are putting an all you can eat buffet next to a place to run and hide. This would probably also apply to most other mammals like squirrels,raccoons and skunks.

That having been said it looks like a great piece of land with a lot of potential. Congratulations and best of luck!

JP said...

What a great opportunity! I would encourage you to go for whatever you feel might involve the most members of your community, so that they are your support system when you ask for more.

bcolwell said...

I would suggest installing native and drought tolerant grasses. These installations have many environemntal benefits, low-to-no maintenance charges, and are incredibly beautiful. It would go along nicely with your bird sancturay idea. Check out the following link to Greenlee Nursury out of the Bay Area for some great info:


Liz said...

How exciting for you guys! I can see the love and plans you have for the land. I hope it all works out in your favor!

Loving This Mom Stuff

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

Very exciting!

Malissa said...

Definitely a community garden!

tree said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Green Industry Web Site Design said...

That nice too hearing such a great information, and A Community Garden its too good, and excellent planing done

Kelly said...

Hello Rick,
I hear your concern about the dear. Hopefully a local fence company will be kind enough to donate something to keep them out. If not, then yes we will have to seriously consider where the garden will go.

Hi JP,
I'm right there with ya. Community involvement, along with student engagement, are our top priorities. Without their involvement, this project will never make it past the administration.

Hi bcolwell,
This is awesome. One of our goals is to make the area's that surround the community area a no-mow zone. The question is, what will emerge when the mowing stops? I'm all about nature taking over, but we do have zoning issues to deal with. The information on this link will be very helpful. Thanks.

Hi Liz,
Glad you're diggin' it.

Hello DGG,
We're certainly excited on our end.

Hello Malissa,
Oh yes, definitely.

Hello GIWSD,
Thanks. We'll be sure to keep everyone posted on our progress.

Sunny/Grandma said...

Sounds like a wonderful program. My cousin in England is part of a community garden program. Each participant has a specific area (fenced in but then it's England and they fence everything). Each chooses the garden plan, must maintain the plot. She also started a village-wide compost plan that has been most successful. Best of luck with your plans