Permaculture Initiative

Franklin Dining Commons Permaculture Garden Work Day








The University of Massachusetts Amherst has begun to redefine the term local with the implementation of several on-campus sustainable permaculture gardens and creation of the UMass Permaculture Initiative. The UMass Permaculture Initiative is a unique and cutting-edge sustainability program that converts underused grass lawns on the campus into edible, low-maintenance, and easily replicable gardens. This initiative was created by students and then adopted and funded by our administration in 2010. Students and permaculture staff work together along with UMass Dining Services, the Sustainable UMass leadership team, and many other departments to demonstrate the vision of what a sustainable community and world can look like. Located on a quarter-acre plot adjacent to Franklin Dining Commons, the UMass Permaculture Garden is one of the first student-led permaculture gardens on a public university campus in the nation that supplies food directly to its campus dining services. In it’s first growing season the Franklin Permaculture Garden produced almost 1,000 pounds of fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible plants, which doubled in it’s second year! The initiative maintains three permaculture gardens on campus and are always looking for students, faculty, staff and community members to get involved! Learn more here:

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a merger of the words permanent and agriculture, and the concept was created to help solve the environmental issues associated with modern agriculture. Its approach is simple: to design sustainable human settlements based on ecological principles that restore and renew natural systems. Permaculture gardens are intentionally designed to require minimal long-term maintenance and provide an abundance of food and resources. The initial idea for the permaculture garden started as a student-led initiative in a sustainable agriculture class led by UMass Professor John Gerber. The group of students approached Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises at UMass, with the idea that the garden would be a beneficial addition to the already existing sustainability efforts on campus.

Award Winning Initiatives:

  • White House Campus Champions of Change Challenge 2012
  • Real Food Challenge’s National Student Group of the Year 2011
  • Sustainable Leader Award 2013 (Josefine Norwitz)
  • National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ (NASPA) Silver Excellence Award
  • FoodService Director’s “Going Green” Goldie Award
  • NACAS National Student Author Contest



Documentary: Youtube “UMass Permaculture”

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