Students in the Environmental Studies department’s Urban Sustainability capstone course are developing plans for a food forest at the Whittaker Environmental Research Station. Food forests draw on principles of integrated ecological design, primarily with longer-lived perennial species, to meet multiple goals. In so doing, the WERS food forest will represent a new and distinctive approach to sustainable food production on campus, building on the College’s success at the Organic Farm. It will also provide a model for food production that emphasizes enhancing watershed health and local biodiversity.
As part of their project, students have visited Hopewell Furnace National Historic site to learn about National Park Service efforts to preserve heirloom apple trees; Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown to learn about commercial fruit production; and the Philadelphia Orchard Project and University of Pennsylvania’s collaborative food forest at Penn Park. Besides focusing on ecological considerations, students are working with Entreprenur-in-Residence Maureen Cumpstone of the UImagine Center to ensure their planned designs work to engage key potential customers and stakeholders.