THE 25-YEAR PLAN: BELLWETHER FARM
Integrating agriculture and ecology to develop resilient, productive landscapes.
During the Master Planning process, the design team worked with the Client to develop detailed and specific project programming and sustainability goals which were incorporated into the project Site Plan using principles of Landscape Ecology. Non-farm buildings and landscape program elements are located within an ‘Expanded Edge’, a transitional habitat zone between farm fields and woodland. Restricting new development to the edges of the fields preserves as much arable land as possible and creates a buffer between the agricultural operations and the river. Stormwater runoff within the Edge is managed in large swales that provide spatial definition to program areas and are planted with species providing food resources to farm-friendly pollinators.
The design phase of the project began in 2015. AKD proposed an incremental, ecologically based approach to developing the Expanded Edge and related non-farm landscapes. ‘The 25-Year Plan’ integrates agricultural techniques and practices with a managed process of ecological plant community succession. The existing crop fields have been planted with a series of cover crops to increase soil organic matter and reduce nitrogen levels. Pasture grasses and forbs will follow cover cropping, and pollinator strips of native forbs and grasses will be sown along field and road edges to provide the seed source for a gradual transition to an Old Field grassland species mix.
Phased plantings and harvesting of early colonizing Old Field woody species create the necessary soil and light conditions for the successful establishment of forest species. Most importantly, the ‘landscape’ time-frame, where the span of a single tree encompasses many human generations, allows for all ages of the Diocesan community to be actively involved in the planting, harvesting and stewardship of their Center’s evolving environment. When today’s Summer Campers return with their own children, they may sit in the shade of an Oak they planted as an acorn.
For more on Bellwether Farm, click here.