Friday, November 11, 2011

Charrette

On Wednesday, at the new garden site for the Plant-a-row-for-the-hungry garden, there was a charrette for the whole property. Essentially, a charrette is a big-group brainstorming session for design, and we were putting together potential designs for the whole property at Fountain Gate, which will be the host for our garden plus a community garden plus demonstration garden for Kennesaw State University.

The landscape designer, Sean Murphy, did a great job of walking us all through "what to do," and people from the city of Kennesaw showed up to tell us about the future road-widening that will affect the plans.

The whole group was divided into three smaller groups for the brainstorming. We all had big maps of the property, tracing paper to lay over the maps to write on, and a few colors of Sharpies for drawing. In the end, it was great to see the variety of plans that the three groups came up with. We were all trying to place the KSU garden, the PAR garden, the community garden plots, a meditation/contemplation area, picnic/play areas, paths and access routes and other features on the ~3 acre site.

One group did an especially nice job of keeping artistry in mind. My group was thinking much more in terms of function.

The good news is that Sean Murphy is very good at what he does, and however he sets up the site will be fine. (He is in a design competition right now for an urban farm in Atlanta, and there is a good chance he will win. He brought a copy of the plan to our meeting, and what I saw was pretty impressive.)

I did meet a retired friend over at the property this morning for some advice. This guy is a long-time farmer and retired developer-of-subdivisions, and he had some useful comments with regard to drainage on the site. He pointed out where the water was going to run across the property and where the slope was going to be too steep for an in-ground garden. First, he recommended that the drainage corridor be left as lawn.

Then he pointed out that if the PAR space ends up on ground that is too sloped, we will need to put in raised beds. I would probably have figured that out eventually, but it's helpful to be prepared.

He also said that the best garden site was right behind the Grambling House (historic house on the property). None of the designs put the PAR garden there, and I'm a little chagrined that I didn't see it as a possibility.

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