What would you do with a few acres of land, a house, a barn, and a bit of money? I never imagined I'd actually have all of those resources to play with, but in a way I do. A group of students, staff, and administration at the university I work for want to turn a piece of land near campus into an educational farm and appropriate technology center. I've been asked to help lead the charge. I'll be headed over to the land this evening to begin shooting photos for the landscape architecture students that will ultimately be asked to help design this great landscape. It is exciting to see something begin to emerge, but I have already become a bit paralyzed by the vast potential of the project. Should we build an outdoor classroom? How about a solar covered parking spot for the tractor? How should the house be integrated into the farmscape? Who should live in that house and how would the location be showcased for its technology concepts?
With a limited budget we'll have to make some decisions about where to start. Where would you start? In some ways it is like asking a person to decide what component of sustainability is most important. Do I focus on getting the farm up and productive? Do I focus on those old buildings? Do I focus on appearance in order to attract potential funders? I don't know.
So here is my challenge to all of you. Without considering money or specific barriers, how would you answer the following question: What do you do with 4 acres of good soil, a house, and a small barn to showcase sustainability on a college campus? I need suggestions!
Vincent M. Smith - PhD