Student Permaculture Garden Committee wins national award

By Collegian News Staff

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian
Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Student Permaculture Garden Committee, responsible for growing the first permaculture garden at UMass, has won the campus national recognition for giving students a hands-on approach to learning sustainability, according to a press release.

The committee won the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ (NASPA) Silver Excellence Award in Careers, Academic Support, Service Learning and Community Service category. The committee was awarded this national recognition due to its “transformative, innovative and data-driven programs” stated the release.

NASPA is the leading organization for the advancement, health and sustainability for student affairs, according to NASPA’s website.

The committee of 12 students and three staff members began in 2010 and is sponsored and funded by Auxiliary Enterprises.

UMass’ Chief Sustainability Coordinator Ryan Harb said in the release, “the national competition asked the permaculture group to show how they provide opportunities for students to learn about eco-friendly gardening, composting, water conservation, energy savings and related practices at the same time they’re enjoying hands-on experiences that benefit the campus and local communities.”

The committee of students and volunteers work in the garden Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to an article published at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian in September.

The committee has plans to install a second permaculture garden in front of Berkshire dining commons in Spring of 2012. The student interns working at the garden will learn site analysis, assessment and problem-solving techniques for ecosystem health, according to the UMass Permaculture website. According to the site, the second permaculture garden will be one-third the size of the Franklin garden.

A permaculture garden “consists of ecological design for creating sustainable communities that involves people working together to care for the planet,” according to the UMass Permaculture website.

The garden, in front of Franklin Dining Commons, grows fresh fruit, flowers, herbs and vegetables. The garden has received volunteer support from student faculty and staff. Harb said the garden also received support from community “volunteers from Amherst, Shutesbury, Shelburne-Buckland schools, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Amherst Community Child Care and Marks Meadow Summer Action Camp,” according to the release.

– Collegian News Staff