Friday, May 24, 2013

Grant will support Lynchburg edible landscaping nursery at Randolph's organic garden

The Randolph College Organic Garden will become a local source for plants that beautify yards and produce food, too, with the help of a grant from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Ludovic Lemaitre ’11, Randolph’ s sustainability coordinator, has received an Emerging Leader Fellowship from NWF, which will provide training and $2,000 to help Lemaitre develop an edible landscaping nursery in the Organic Garden.

Edible landscaping is the practice of landscaping an outdoor area using fruit trees, bushes, herbs, and other food-producing plants instead of plants that do not produce food. For example, you could plant an actual pear tree instead of a Bradford pear tree, which grows flowers but not fruit.

“The propagation and distribution on edible perennials (fruit trees, nut trees, shrubs, herbs, etc.) will allow the re-planting of species that are beneficial to both humans and wildlife,” Lemaitre said. “The species will help reforest our region with useful species as opposed to the pretty, but ecologically sterile species that are planted in our landscapes today.”

Ludovic Lemaitre ’11 helps plant a fig tree on back campus
at  Randolph College, one example of edible landscaping.
Lemaitre studied edible landscaping during the Summer Research program two years ago, just after he graduated from Randolph College. He created an instructional guide for edible landscaping, expanded the Organic Garden, and began developing a plan for the garden to help local residents adopt edible landscaping by getting the plants started in a nursery. The NWF grant, along with funds from the College’s Organic Garden budget, will make that a reality.

Lemaitre will plan the details of the nursery this summer. Later in the year, he will work with Randolph students to start planting the nursery. They will host workshops about edible landscaping in late winter, and some plants might be available for transplanting to homes and businesses in the spring of 2014.

Randolph College’s Organic Garden was created 10 years ago by students. It is home to chickens, honeybees, an orchard, and a vegetable and herb garden. Students, faculty, and staff often work in the community garden to enjoy time outdoors and learn about raising natural food.

The Emerging Leader Fellowship is a new program that NWF created in 2013 to provide training and seed money for young professionals pursuing ecological projects. It is an extension of the federation’s Campus Ecology program, which has provided fellowships to college students since 2000.