Below are a few views of a learning garden / outdoor classroom design developed by the permaculture design team, for consideration by the school community and district.
The design is meant to concentrate school garden spaces, tool storage, and water systems in one location at the school (NE corner of the property), for ease of use and maintenance. Some key elements and features are:
- arbored entries into garden covered with edible vines, to welcome and to define thresholds into the space
- curving pathways to entice entry, slow foot traffic, and direct foot traffic into interesting areas of the garden (and away from eroding slopes)
- outdoor classroom seating on north slope, away from building and under protection of trees
- raised beds for vegetable gardening in mandala / flower pattern, in area with most sun exposure
- sensory gardens (perennial herbs, flowers, plants with color, texture, and scent) for quieter exploration closer to school building
- native plant garden along nature trail in shadier location around existing tree in NE corner
- plantings on slope selected for erosion control, filtering of contaminants in runoff from alley and street, attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to garden
- 8’x11′ greenhouse/shed for:
- capturing solar energy to prolong the growing season (for starting plants that could be used in the garden, sold as a fundraiser, given as gifts, or sent home in the summer)
- water catchment into cistern for use in the garden (an 8’x11′ roof in Seattle can catch almost 2,000 gallons of water/year)
- providing a screen for composting systems
- convenient tool storage
- potential additional water catchment off school building, from downspout on east side of building
- overflow from cisterns and runoff from slope directed into rain garden
- use of swales to capture water for plantings on slopes, and soil-building, dense plantings and heavy mulching to conserve water
- hose bib installed on building for supplemental water when needed
- weather instruments, and garden art throughout
- signage to welcome, state garden policies, and educate about curricula connections, plants, systems, and permaculture techniques
This view shows the garden in relation to the building (at the bottom) and parking lot (to the left):
This is the same view, closer up.
This is a hand sketch in a different orientation, with some labeling for reference.