Practicum project reaches out to DC neighborhood gardens

Certificate in Sustainable Building and Design student Jesse Cooper, advised by Yestermorrow instructor Lisa DePiano, has partnered with Washington, DC organization Beet Street Gardens to use his facilitation, design and building skills to assist them with a Permaculture plan and cabana design for completion of his certificate practicum project.

The discussion between Jesse and Beet Street Gardens began as a request for a simple garden shed. By facilitating a holistic design process, Jesse's project reaches a broader community including a variety of partner organizations and their staff, residents and volunteers for a series of meetings and site visits. After an initial meeting the project quickly developed into something more substantial including a Permaculture assessment for the community garden at their flagship site, the Sasha Bruce House, and a versatile garden "cabana" constructed mostly out of reused materials. When completed the cabana

may include a composting center, picnic and grilling facilities, veggie washing station, tool storage, herb drying, garden starts, information boards and more.

Here's what Jesse has to say about this very cool project:

"During early conversations about the shed project, it became clear that the new structure could serve a number of purposes beyond just storing garden tools. The initial design charette was attended by about a dozen people from several organizations. We brainstormed and walked around, mapping and making observations. Administrators from the house expressed the desire for food prep equipment for frequent BBQs and a place to have outdoor, group learning activities. They also expressed concerns about the high-visibility to the surrounding neighborhood, and some safety concerns. The Beet Street gardeners wanted a place to wash fresh veggies and a greenhouse for early-season planting. The location of the garden was a good distance from the areas where residents tended to congregate, so there was some disconnect there, and linking the two became an essential goal.

"It was a fruitful first meeting both for identifying a number of important constraints and existing assets, and for generating some potential design solutions. People were quite excited at the prospect of reinvigorating the property. I am currently working on the first design iteration through site mapping, listing goals, assets and constraints, doing bubble charts, analysis and assessment summaries and 3D modeling on SketchUp, and am just getting ready to send out the first set of images for feedback."

Congratulations Jesse, great work!