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UMass Amherst Dedicates One of the Nation’s First Public University Permaculture Gardens

UMass Amherst Dedicates One of the Nation’s First Public University Permaculture Gardens with Keynote by Acclaimed Author Frances Moore Lappe

Innovative, student-led sustainability program to supplement University’s 27% local food supply

PRESS RELEASE: Amherst, MA, Sept. 13, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Leading the local food movement in public higher education, the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) Permaculture Garden today announced the public dedication ceremony in celebration of its one-year anniversary. The Permaculture Garden is one of the first of its kind in the nation, and plays a key role in the UMass Amherst Sustainability Initiative of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 by helping the campus supply food directly to its dining services, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and raise awareness of its sustainability efforts.

Permaculture (“permanent” + “(agri)culture”) is an environmentally-sustainable gardening method based on ecological principles that restore and renew natural systems. Permaculture gardens are designed to be minimally-invasive, low maintenance, and utilize techniques that mimic processes occurring in nature. The result is healthy, productive ecosystems that require little long-term maintenance and provide an abundance of easy-to-harvest food and resources.

The UMass Amherst Permaculture Garden is an integral component in the school’s policy of using local produce for 25% of all food served in campus dining by: 1) providing more than 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to the campus dining commons annually, 2) improving the ecosystem health, and 3) educating the campus and community-at-large. Just three months into its inaugural growing season, the 1/4-acre, former grass lawn is already providing fresh vegetables to one of the University’s four dining commons. A long-range goal of the project is to grow produce certified as organic.

In celebration of the project’s first anniversary, the University invites the community for a dedication at the Permaculture Garden on 29 September. In addition, award-winning author Frances Moore Lappé will deliver a keynote address on sustainable living and hold a book signing after the dedication.

WHO: Presenters include:

– UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub;

– UMass Amherst Chief Sustainability Specialist and Permaculture Garden Director Ryan Harb;

– Student members of the UMass Amherst Permaculture committee;

– UMass Amherst Executive Director of Auxiliary Enterprises Ken Toong;

– Award-winning author and activist Frances Moore Lappé

Mr. Harb is a certified permaculture designer and LEED Accredited Professional, retained by UMass Amherst Auxiliary Services to serve as their first Sustainability Specialist. Chartered to implement one of the first permaculture gardens on a public university campus in the nation, Mr. Harb is the first person in the United States to receive a Master of Science degree in Green Building, and teaches courses in sustainable design and permaculture.

Ms. Lappé is the author of the multi-million best selling book, “Diet for a Small Planet”. A recognized social, environmental, and food activist for more than four decades, Ms. Lappé’s ideology on sustainable living states that world hunger is not caused by a lack of food but by ineffective food policy. Since first publishing “Diet for a Small Planet” in 1971, Ms. Lappé has authored 17 additional books and received 17 honorary doctorates.

WHAT: Dedication, presentations, keynote address, reception and book signing. Presentations will be followed by a brief Q&A, tours of the Permaculture Garden, and light refreshments. Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase copies of select books authored by Lappé, and to meet the author as she personally signs each book.

WHEN: Thursday, 29 September 2011 4-6.30PM ET

Interviews with Frances from 2:30-3:30PM ET

WHERE: Permaculture Garden, adjacent to the Franklin Dining Commons, 260 Stockbridge Road, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

RSVP: This event is free to the general public; no RSVP is necessary. Members of the press and broadcast media community are requested to pre-register by emailing Josefine Nowitz media(AT)umasspermaculture(DOT)com or calling +1 508 259 8925

ABOUT THE UMASS PERMACULTURE GARDEN: As part of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050, the Permaculture Garden project’s transformation of a 1/4-acre grass lawn into a high-production, low maintenance way to supply food for the campus community is among the first of its kind in the nation.

Led by Chief Sustainability Specialist Ryan Harb, a certified permaculture designer and UMass alum, the Permaculture Garden is designed, planted, and maintained by students and volunteers interested in holistic and ecologically-conscious ways of growing food. In keeping with the directive of reducing the carbon footprint, raw materials have been sourced from within the campus, including compost, recycled cardboard and newspapers, and wood chips from fallen trees and branches. The project uses no fossil fuels onsite; students moved more than 500,000 pounds of organic matter entirely by hand, assisted by more than 400 community volunteers and local schoolchildren. Within three months of first planting perennial vegetables, herbs, fruit, berries, and annuals, the new garden supplemented student meals with fresh, local produce. The project aims to transition towards providing future crops that are certified organic. For more information, visit http://www.umasspermaculture.com/


– Press Kit (zipped) https://udrive.oit.umass.edu/rharb/UMass%20Permaculture%20Press%20Kit.zip

– Media Coverage; Photos http://www.umasspermaculture.com/media/

– Blog http://umasspermaculture.wordpress.com/

– Team http://umasspermaculture.wordpress.com/about/

– Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/UMass-Amherst-Permaculture/221233517915888

– YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/UMassPermaculture

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