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Berkshire Permaculture Garden

From Neglected soil to Ecological Haven

The Berkshire Permaculture Garden was our second garden, generously funded by the Class of 2012 Senior Class Gift Fund. This site was an exciting new challenge, as it showed signs of intense compaction, erosion, and nutrient depletion in the soils. We were excited about the opportunity to demonstrate the regenerative capacity of permaculture landscaping. In one year, we transformed this neglected site in terrible condition into an ecological haven with rich, fertile soil and high species biodiversity.

The garden covers 1/10th of an acre next to the Berkshire Dining Commons. Located in the Southwest residential area, this space had recently undergone major construction, serving as a temporary parking area for trucks and large machinery– causing severe soil compaction.

Further observation showed us that this sloped garden site has experienced deep erosion caused by runoff water from the concrete walkways down into the Berkshire loading dock.

Put simply, this site was going to be a challenge. However, in a permaculture frame of mind, “the problem is the solution.” Meaning, with every design challenge, therein lies an opportunity. We viewed this challenge as a way to demonstrate the healing power of permaculture design. If we could mend the soil and grow food on this site, we could grow food just about anywhere.

Erosion-Controlling Terraces

Three large terraces minimize soil erosion and water loss while creating more planting surfaces.

Native Edible Perennials

Easy to grow, resilient crops such as elderberry, chestnut, blueberry, and sunchoke provide the backbone of the garden.

Student Art

The shed mural creates beauty and aesthetic interest, inviting passersby into the garden.

Native Pollinator Hotel

A handmade pollinator hotel provides nesting space for solitary bees that, in turn, pollinate the garden.