Until recently, I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit the Innovation Food Forest and learn about how cool it was. Though I had some prior knowledge about permaculture and forest gardening, I was excited to get an in-depth look at an almost-functioning food forest on campus. It was fascinating to learn about the different kinds of native and non-native plants that are currently found there and how they each serve a greater purpose in the garden, whether that be mitigating stormwater issues or blocking out harmful weeds. There were many plants that I had not encountered before and it was nice to learn the significant roles each of them play both in our garden and in the wild. I will be interested to see the food forest in a few years when it is more established and fully self-sustaining.
I think that permaculture, in the form of forest gardening, is an intriguing topic which encompasses a lot of sustainability related characteristics. Not only is this type of gardening self-sustaining, but it also works to mitigate many issues brought about by human carelessness, some of which include poor soil quality, ineffective handling of stormwater and the importing of foods which could be grown locally. I look forward to learning more about permaculture and forest gardening as part of my peer-teaching project later this semester.
As a Mason Ambassador, I have had the pleasure of presenting the Innovation Food Forest as a stop on my admissions tours each week. It has been exciting to see how enthusiastic tour groups are when they learn about the food forest and the opportunities for campus-grown produce being accessible to students and used in dining halls. It gives me hope for the future of sustainability when I see this kind of reaction from people for whom sustainability may not be a primary concern. Hopefully this kind of tangible form of sustainability will spark an interest in generations of Mason students to come and continue the conversation about sustainability on campus.