Lilly Israel

Lilly began her farming journey as a UMass student walking by the Franklin Dining Commons one day. At the time, work was underway to start creating what would become the Franklin Permaculture Garden. As she walked by one day, she became curious as to what was to become of the land that had previously been a boring, empty grass lawn. 
Soon, after learning what the project was all about, she began volunteering with the project. Having grown up in the urban setting of New York City, the idea of regenerating underutilized spaces into productive, edible gardens was exciting. 
In 2012, she became a student garden coordinator with the UMass Permaculture Initiative, housed under the Auxiliary Sustainability department. The novel idea of permaculture, essentially a system of growing food in a way that is regenerative for the land and community, sold her on working in this new role. 
Lilly worked with the Sustainability team to maintain the existing permaculture gardens and create new permaculture gardens across campus including the Hillside garden behind the Chancellor’s house. She also began providing tours of the gardens to local school groups, helping set up the on-campus farmers market, and more.  
There are now five permaculture gardens on-campus: Franklin, Berkshire, Hillside, Worcester, and most recently Hampshire. 
In 2014, after graduating as a double-major in Resource Economics and Sustainable Food & Farming, Lilly joined the Sustainability department full-time. In addition to all of the roles she had as a student, Lilly runs volunteer hours and teaches a practicum in which students work in the gardens and learn about permaculture for credit. 
If you haven’t had a chance to meet Lilly or get a tour of the gardens, it’s the best way there is to learn about permaculture and regenerative ecology! 
To read more about Lilly’s work with the UMass Permaculture Initiative, click on the Permaculture tab of the website.