It is important to continue to find ways to mitigate or adapt to climate change.
One of the most effective strategies is to teach younger generations about taking care of the planet. At the University of Massachusetts (UMass), food is grown at five permaculture gardens. Yet the main purpose of the gardens is to educate students and the public. The gardens engage thousands of people every year, teaching them how to farm sustainably. In 2009, a group of students first proposed the idea of creating permaculture gardens on campus. Within a year, the UMass Permaculture Initiative was started. A committee was formed and they hosted a design charrette to get input from the campus community. In one year, with the help of 1,000 students, faculty, staff, and community volunteers, the Franklin Permaculture Garden was created. This was the first of five gardens that are now on campus.
In 2012, the UMass Permaculture Committee received first place in the White House Campus Champions of Change Challenge. Today, the permaculture gardens provide locally sourced food to the dinning commons and student farmers’ markets. Most importantly, the gardens offer many opportunities to educate students and the public. The gardens provide a place to teach about sustainability and how to build resilient landscapes. These are important concepts needed to combat climate change.
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“Permaculture is a set of design principles used to create resilient systems that model natural ecosystems, which is kind of a long way of saying that we’re trying to do what nature does really well and still grow some food in this garden.”
– Xochiquetzal Salazar, Sustainability Coordinator for Campus Gardens, University of Massachusetts