UMass Amherst Green Building Grad Shovels 40,000 Pounds of Compost to Turn Yard into a Sustainable Permaculture Garden


DATE: Monday, June 14, 2010

TIME: 4 p.m.

WHAT: Turning the lawn into a sustainable permaculture vegetable and fruit garden

WHERE: 3 Willow Lane, Amherst, Mass.

Ryan Harb, the first graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s masters-level Green Building Program, will host a permaculture garden tour for the media and UMass Amherst students, faculty and staff. With help from friends, he has turned the 6,000-square-foot yard of his Willow Lane home into a permaculture garden. The tour will show how anyone can transform a lawn into a productive garden to supply vegetables, fruits, nuts and other produce. Harb is a certified permaculture designer and instructor.

To prepare, last fall Harb spread 40,000 pounds of compost on the yard he co-owns with his parents. They’ve been turning the home into a more sustainable dwelling by adopting energy-conserving practices and good recycling habits. Growing more of their own food seemed like the next logical step. “Making changes for the entire world is overwhelming, so we decided to start small and local, and turn our yard into a food-producing garden. That way other people can see how it’s done, and that it can be done,” he explains.

Permaculture is a low-maintenance ecological design system that’s intended to provide easy-to-harvest crops. It uses perennial polyculture, emphasizing symbiotic or companion relationships between plants. Before proceeding, the family did make certain that Amherst has no rules against such gardens as long as fences aren’t involved.

Contact: Janet Lathrop, 413/545-0444;
Ryan Harb, 978/314-1176;