G-Street Parent-Child Development Center

posted May 21, 2011, 10:36 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 22, 2011, 12:26 PM ]

The G-Street Parent-Child Development Center in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, is an ideal candidate for a site-plan that more fully helps the organization realize its mission. 

Currently, thirty-five children ages five and under, roughly a half dozen staff, and the children’s parents and guardians use the grounds and facility. However, most of the Center’s activities take place in the building, and do not take advantage of the many resources on and surrounding this unique location.  

The Center approached the Conway School to assess the site and propose community garden possibilities which meet the goals of early education, parent-child development, community development, and low-income family assistance, perhaps via significant food production on the site. 

The Center also expressed an openness to ecologically sound plans and designs, which is the emphasis of Conway’s graduate program.

View the Plan Set:

Nuestras Raices’ La Finca Urban Farm

posted May 21, 2011, 11:39 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 22, 2011, 12:27 PM ]

La Finca is an island of rich agricultural land in an urban matrix. It is a rare resource for growing food, supplying wildlife habitat, and providing open space for people. Its urban context brings challenges and opportunities. Air pollution, theft, vandalism, and development pressure are the drawbacks. Benefits include a large potential customer base, the opportunity to help urban residents connect to food and agriculture, and community support. 

It grew out of Nuestras Raices’ (Our Roots) mission to promote economic, human and community development in Holyoke, through projects relating to food, agriculture, and the environment. The farm has a unique business model. Farmers rent portions of the site from Nuestras Raices, work the land, and develop independent businesses. Farmers share knowledge, build markets together, and each business helps the others grow.

The farm's thirty acres on the Connecticut River are bisected by an intermittent stream flowing through a gully. Nuestras Raices, the grassroots organization that manages La Finca, leases the southern 26 acres from the Sisters of Providence for large-scale agricultural production. Nuestras Raices owns the northern four acres. They are the public face of the site, where visitors shop for vegetables, visit the petting zoo and attend festivals featuring music, Paso Fino horse demonstrations and lechon asado—traditional Puerto Rican barbecue.

The Conway School has recently completed two plans for La Finca: A preliminary landscape plan and a Gateway Master Plan.

View the Plan Sets:

Cultivating Resilience: The Shelburne Falls Food Security Plan

posted May 21, 2011, 11:24 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 23, 2011, 8:54 AM by ]

As members of Conway’s class of 2009 we had the privilege of working on an especially innovative project: the Shelburne Falls Food Security Plan. It let us—and our classmates and teachers—explore some of the significant new landscape implications of the burgeoning demand for local food production. The Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts-based Central Connecticut River Valley Institute (CCRVI), and the Apios Institute (co-founded by Dave Jacke ‘84, Jono Neiger ‘03, and several others) invited our school to examine important global food security issues. We were fortunate to work with both organizations on what could become a multi-phase project, Cultivating Resilience: The Shelburne Falls Food Security Plan. 

The impetus for this project came from concern over predicted changes (from global climate change to peak oil, to name just two), and the desire to secure local food production to make the village of Shelburne Falls, with an estimated population of 1,950, economically stronger and more self-reliant. Shelburne Falls, like many other places, relies on food from around the globe. 

Specifically, in the first phase of the study we estimated existing demand for food in the village, analyzed the potential for food production, and proposed various food production schemes. We gathered data on nutrition and crop-growing requirements, reviewed village land-use and social patterns, evaluated environmental conditions that affect food-production potential, researched models of localized food production systems from around the country and elsewhere, and worked with residents in exploring relevant options. We researched case studies of more sustainable food production in Holyoke, Massachusetts (Nuestra Raices’s La Finca project) and in Burlington, Vermont (Healthy City program), as well as older models developed during the Second World War. 

From these and other examples we described a plan for a healthy and potentially prolific food network for the village’s undeveloped 440 acres, including both public and private lands. The plan explores, among other things, how neighbors could work together in producing food and how parts of a school property could be transformed into a large cooperative teaching garden that also could grow much of the food needed to feed students. 

The Shelburne Falls Food Security Plan could become a model for other communities concerned with where their food comes from and how residents can work together to meet a community’s food needs

Read the Project Report:

 “The Conway team did an excellent job of helping us raise important questions like, ‘Do we really need to import food from so far?‘ and ‘What could we as a community realistically do to produce more of our food right in our own village?‘ I am amazed at what the student team accomplished in just twelve weeks!”  
– Will Flanders, President 
Central Connecticut River Valley Institute

Feed Northampton: First Steps Toward a Local Food System

posted May 21, 2011, 10:58 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 23, 2011, 8:46 AM by ]

Almost all food consumed in the United States moves through a large-scale, industrial agriculture system, where an average meal can travel 1,500 miles and change hands half a dozen times before reaching the dinner table. This global system supplies a tremendous amount of food and has remained affordable to Americans for over fifty years; but, it is wrought with unseen costs such as environmental degradation and dependence on precarious fossil fuel availability. The global supply of non-renewable fossil fuels cannot last forever, and higher fuel prices will jeopardize food supplies. 

Communities across the globe are seeking solutions to the pressing question: What does it take for a community to grow food locally and sustainably, relying less on fossil fuel inputs? A team of students from the Conway School investigates this question for the city of Northampton, Massachusetts.

This report outlines the social, political, economic, and environmental challenges to creating a local food system, and goes on to recommend a model that responds to these challenges. Tools are offered for inventorying land and community assets, and for envisioning what is possible in Northampton.

Read the Project Report:

A Sonoran Oasis: Developing a Local Food System for Ajo, Arizona

posted May 21, 2011, 9:52 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 22, 2011, 12:32 PM ]

Deep in the Sonoran Desert, the community of Ajo, Arizona, is facing health and economic challenges. Ajo is dependent on the continued availability of imported foods, leaving people vulnerable to conditions over which they have little power. 

Productive and ecologically sound land use is achievable through modern adaptations of traditional Sonoran Desert farming and water management techniques that maximize food production while respecting the limits of the desert.

Read the Project Report:

Davis Street School Reuse

posted May 21, 2011, 9:47 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 22, 2011, 12:33 PM ]

The City of Greenfield proposes to sell a 1.9-acre property on Davis Street, home to a historical 1902 brick grammar school building and ten-year-old community garden in the downtown area. The city has requested design redevelopment alternatives for the site that could inform a request for proposal (RFP) for developers. These alternatives are meant to explore a wide range of land use possibilities that could benefit Greenfield.

Interviews were conducted with local developers, realtors, county economists, neighbors, architects, planners, engineers and community members to establish the financial and social needs of Greenfield. These needs help shape what the existing building and site three blocks from downtown could support economically and socially.

Analysis of site conditions, including drainage, sun and shade, views, access and circulation, vegetation, zoning, and legal setbacks, coupled with the goals and needs of the city have informed explorations of possible future uses of the site at different development densities.

View the Plan Set:

Northampton Urban Farmstead

posted May 21, 2011, 9:34 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 23, 2011, 6:15 PM ]

Northampton, Massachusetts, is a vibrant city with many progressive citizens who embrace environmentalism and sustainability. The owners of this property have chosen to live here because they share this ethos and thus feel at home within their larger community. By living so close to downtown and the commercial district, the clients walk or bike to reach nearly all of their everyday social, commercial, and living needs, and in so doing, are able to reduce their carbon footprint.

Review the Plan Set here: (future)

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