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UMass Permaculture Gardens Win National Award and $25,000 in Gifts

As an addition to the last post, where Ryan Harb tells us all about his work getting permaculture demonstration gardens growing in universities in the U.S. of A., here’s a great update, and excellent news, on this project:

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 30
What: UMass Permaculture Wins Real Food Challenge Award
Where: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Auxiliary Enterprises

Individuals from all across the nation voted for the college/university group that is doing the most to bring ‘Real Food’ to their campus. This year, a team from the University of Massachusetts took home the grand prize.

UMass Permaculture, a student-led group which is administered by UMass Dining, has recently been recognized as National Student Group of the Year by the Real Food Challenge.

Permaculture, in short, consists of ecological design for creating sustainable communities that involves people working together to care for the planet.

The Real Food Challenge is a national organization that aims to shift campus food operations from unsustainable practices and nutrient-deficient food to strictly ‘real food’, which is defined as “food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth.”

“UMass Permaculture and UMass Dining are creating a Real Food Model which we hope to see replicated at many other schools over time,” says Ryan Harb, Chief Sustainability Coordinator for UMass Auxiliary Enterprises. Together, these two groups will host a conference in June 2012 that teaches and encourages other schools to establish permaculture gardens on their campus, similar to UMass Amherst.

The UMass Permaculture gardens have received an outpouring of support from fellow students, faculty, staff, and UMass Chancellor Robert C. Holub. They provide edible fruits, nuts, berries, herbs, flowers, and vegetables, along with sustainability education, for the UMass Amherst campus community. The newest garden, located outside of Berkshire Dining Common, was recently voted by UMass students to receive the 2012 Senior Class Gift award which will directly fund that ecological restoration project.

Together, the Real Food Challenge and Senior Class Gift are expected to fund over $25,000 toward the establishment of the Berkshire Permaculture Garden as well as more permaculture gardens directly on the UMass Amherst campus.

For the University of Massachusetts Amherst, permaculture serves as a reminder of what one big idea, a lot of recycled newspaper, cardboard and food waste, and a supportive community can accomplish in an ongoing effort to make the Earth a more sustainable and healthier place to live.

Contact: info (at)

What a great way to get permaculture noticed, and how fantastic it would be if we could see all schools and universities with permaculture gardens and programs! In such a scenario, with a little healthy/friendly interschool garden competitiveness and its associated reseach into better and better techniques, we’d soon be out of this mess….

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