January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 29°F


Permaculture garden on campus to celebrate first season

The Ithaca College permaculture garden will hold its First Season Celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony to thank people who contributed to the project at noon Friday in the garden.

The permaculture garden is located near the walkway between Williams Hall and Phillips Hall. The space was previously used as a children’s playground by the psychology department but was run down and eventually taken out.

Karryn Olson-Ramanujan, a lecturer in the environmental studies and science department, said she saw this space as an opportunity to give students a hands-on experience of permaculture. In Fall 2009, a student group in her class took on the task of redesigning the garden as their final project.

Over the next few years, several students and faculty were involved in creating the permaculture garden. This included bringing guest speakers, offering courses and proposing independent studies.

This spring, a research class was dedicated to designing, building and getting the garden ready to plant crops.

Olson-Ramanujan said finding ecologically friendly ways to use space on the campus is a goal of the permaculture garden.

“Mowing one area of lawn for an hour is equal to if you had ran eight cars for 55 miles at 65 miles per hour,” Olson-Ramanujan said. “What we’re trying to show is we can plant a garden that will not only not emit carbons, because of mowing and power tools, but it will subsequently cut carbons.”

Madison Vander Hill, a senior who has been involved in making the permaculture garden a reality, said she had been interested in being involved in transforming the space into a sustainable garden ever since she was a freshman.

Vander Hill said she thinks it’s important to have the garden on campus, especially one that is different from usual campus landscape.

“We just want to show you can do more than just have a lawn or a few little shrubs,” Vander Hill said. “You can create a space that has edible plants, medicinal plants, and be beautiful.”

Vander Hill received a student internship that allowed her to stay in Ithaca over the summer to take care of the garden and get it ready for its first harvest. She said this garden also provides a great opportunity for students interested in permaculture to get a hands-on educational experience.

Junior Allison Currier, co-president of the Ithaca College Environmental Society, was also a part of designing, building and planting the permaculture garden through the course offered in the spring of 2012. Currier said she learned about providing a sustainable source of food and also how to coordinate volunteers for projects like the garden.

“It’s symbolic for showing that it is possible to have sustainable forestry on a college campus,” Currier said. “We can put a lot of our money and energy into something that will create a better future.”

There will be refreshments and food harvested from the garden at the event.

“The significance [of the First Season celebration] is to really say ‘thank you’ to all of the people who helped,” Vander Hill said. “It’s a way to acknowledge that this is our first successful season and the garden is here now.”