University of Vermont


Permaculture on Campus

Permaculture is a regenerative strategy that restores ecosystem health through sustanable and mindful design. Large green areas on campus should be used to create native, edible landscapes that will supply dining services and students with a local and organic food source. This will reduce our reliance on fuel for food transportation, serve as an educational medium, and involve the UVM community with the source of the food they consume.  Compost from campus facilities could be kept on campus and be used to build and maintain soil health for the permaculture plots. The gardens could be planned and upkept by a committee or club of interested students and community partners.


Permaculture on campus is a potentially good idea but if it's more time and resource intensive than the existing system then those resources (staff time, funding, equipment) should be identified and completely funded before choosing this project. It will be very difficult for students to do this on their own since they are generally not here in the summer. Composting also has issues: see existing feasibility study.

It is important to begin thinking and identifying where these landscapes may thrive best.  Major benefits would include allowing on site experimentation and study of plant relationships by classes interested in hands-on permaculture learning.  It is also important to begin setting goals such as 10% of on campus food would be supplied by permaculture landscape yields throughout the summer and fall.  

While the energy connection of permaculture is indirect, it is important.  As fossil fuel prices rise and food prices respond accordingly, the need to produce local food for energy conservation will increase.  It is important that UVM begins to consider how a school of 10,000 plus students might be able to feed and sustain itself on locally produced (250-mile radius) food in the very near future.  

Let's have a student led design of a permaculture for UVM's campus. I happen to be interested in doing this as a thesis next for next year. Just throwing that out there. 

I lived in UHN last year and I remember for a solid month landscapers @ uvm were using a hose to keep the stream on athletic campus flowing. Uhh what? Not to mention the intensive way they tear up soil every year and redo the wood chips, I feel like it isn't very "UVM." That said, I'm not in a position to reccomend on what would be a better option, and I don't know how effective passing this would be to make a change, but I think its a great start.

if only all the ideas could get funded!

While I agree that more gardens that produce edible plants/fruits/veggies is a great idea...  the problem is, that while funding it might happen for one year, it needs to be funded EVERY year.  Students who tend the gardens won't do it for free... so there needs to be funds available to support them to compensate them for their time.  Likewise, faculty or staff oversight also needs to be compensated.  Faculty are for the most part on 9-month contracts which means we don't get paid in the summer and many seek jobs external to UVM or if they stay at UVM, they are funded by research grants.  Any gardens on campus need to have oversight and extensive planning.  Students come and go but there needs to be consistency from year-to-year.  Schools that have permaculture gardens on campus during summer than provide produce to the campus have a facultry/staff person dedicated to oversight of the operation.  It would be great if the Clean Energy Fund could be used to support wages for students and faculty/staff EVERY SUMMER... If this is possible, then this concept has potential... But I do not believe the fund can be used as such...  Someone correct me if I am wrong...

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By adopting the ethics and applying these principles in our daily life we can make the transition from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. This journey builds skills and resilience at home and in our local communities that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy.