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June 4, 2012
Kevin Coburn, Director of Communications

Green Mountain College Lawn-to-Edible Garden Project Unveiled

POULTNEY—From the White House south lawn to vacant city lots, more and more acreage in the U.S. is being devoted to vegetable gardening. Whether it’s saving money in the face of a slow economic recovery, growing local produce to encourage healthy eating, or supporting the local agricultural economy, Americans are finding plenty of reasons to raise their own vegetables.

Green Mountain College has moved the traditional home vegetable garden—often relegated to the backyard—in front of the Solar Harvest Center (SHC), a farmhouse purchased by the College in 2009. With the support of several grants, students and faculty recently completed the Lawn-to-Edible Garden Project which converted the SHC front lawn into a permaculture landscape of vegetables and perennial fruits. Lettuce, peppers, onions, tomatoes and many other vegetables grown in the 12 new raised beds will find their way to the plates of students studying in the current Summer Farm Intensive Program on campus, and on the shelves of local food pantries. Blueberries, grapes, elderberries, and other small fruits will diversify the offerings in coming years. The entire installation was completed by students taking a semester-long Edible Landscaping course in a culminating week of construction and planting.

"Edible gardens can be visually appealing, a lot more interesting than grass,” said Philip Ackerman-Leist, director of the College's Farm & Food Project. “Putting the garden out front also makes a statement about the centrality of food in the community. We’re interested in sharing what we know about growing and preparing healthy food with local residents—we like learning from their experience as well. We see the SHC as a place where that dialogue can happen.”

The edible garden project ties together several aspects of the SHC. Adjacent to the College's Cerridwen Farm, the building is home base for several GMC academic programs including an undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture and food production and a new graduate program in sustainable food systems. The Community Commercial Kitchen, installed in the SHC last summer, serves as a resource for local farmers and small value-added processors to process fresh food efficiently and get their products to the marketplace.

Grant funding from the Duke Energy Foundation and the Pierson Family Foundation was also used to restore the Center's front porch, which offers an educational gathering and dining space. The beds, cold frames, and a large trellis for raising grapes were built by GMC students in the College’s design/build program. Adjunct faculty member Joseph Markowski helped students build the surrounding hardscape, including stone paths and a fireplace. The overall project was designed by three GMC alumni in a weekend-long design charette. Landscape architects Amber Rohe ’04 and Morgan Barnicoat worked with landscaper Erika Krauss Cadreact ’09 to develop the design for the project.

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