Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Farm to Pharmacy

Last week I finished the third installment of Goldthread Apothecary’s Farm to Pharmacy program at their farm in Conway, MA. Empowering people to maintain and boost their health through plant-based medicine is an inspired call to action. While the focus of the program was on the healing properties of about 30 plants and how to make teas, tinctures, salves and oils from them, the implications of taking the time to grow, nurture and harvest these plants reach beyond physical health.

I think a lot about these words from Georgia O’Keefe –

Nobody sees a flower
- really - it is so small it takes time -
we haven't time - and to see takes time,
like to have a friend takes time.

As a landscape designer, I am familiar with the plants I encountered at Farm to Pharmacy for their habitat value, what they tell me about the soils and bedrock, and the beauty of their forms – globes, umbrellas, spikes and sprays. Learning about their healing properties and how they have nourished communities deepened my already profound wonder and respect for plants and their critical role in our lives and ecology we all share. Like O’Keefe observes, seeing involves more than the eyes. It involves intention, and moving past facile connections to experience the reality of what is there, where only then, in that moment, might you see.

There is already a tremendous movement to interweave the rewards of producing one's own food into people’s lives – through edible landscapes, permaculture and urban gardens and farming. The next progression is the re-introduction of simple folk medicine. I am inspired to incorporate my experiences from Farm to Pharmacy into my design practice. In addition to creating systems to support landscape ecological function, I hope to also nurture people's health through providing edibles, herbs and opportunities for gardening, meditation or running around playing tag. 

I am grateful to have shared the experience with so many dedicated, inspired and courageous people. 



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Foundation Terraces

Three terraces nestle into a precipitous slope within the footprint of an old carriage barn. A curved walking path ascends the levels with steps and a ramp that references an existing ramp on site. The edge of the top terrace recreates the original line of the barn and contains the curvilinear terraces reflecting the stepped topography of the surrounding fields. An informal granite slab stair case accesses the apple orchards beyond.

The artfully composed spaces accommodate small family gatherings, provide ample gardening beds and recall the history of the site. South east sun exposure and generous northwest wind buffer make this an ideal place for raising food and medicine. Heat gain from the stone walls, raised beds and removable hoop houses will help to extend the often capricious New England growing season.

Cribstone benches define the gathering area. The porosity of the forms gives a light feeling to the gravity of stone benches. Tall grasses and meadow plants will enclose the space and add sensual contrast to the linearity of the cut stone caps and help to place the foundation terraces within their meadow context.

Installation of pathways, raised beds and plants remain. It has been great to work with Daniel Snow and watch these walls emerge. I am eager to see the next phase of the project completed and to begin planting.