Permaculture Takes Root at Hilltown School

Course to Establish Forest Garden
at Williamsburg Elementary School on May 28th-31st, 2010

Climbing spinach

The garden curriculum at Williamsburg’s Dunphy Elementary School will get a boost this year, when a special kind of garden, known as a Forest Garden, will be built on the school grounds. A Forest Garden includes perennials and annuals, and mimics the layered structure of a forest, utilizing trees, shrubs, vines, and ground covers. The garden will include common plants such as strawberries, and lesser-known species such as honeyberry, and perennial climbing spinach.

Sally Loomis of Fertile Ground said, “For several years students and teachers from the Anne T. Dunphy School have been walking to the nearby James School for weekly gardening activities. But most at the Dunphy School have wanted a garden space at their school to expand outdoor learning opportunities beyond weekly lessons. The Dunphy School Forest Garden will provide that space and expand the gardening curriculum for 3rd – 6th grade students.”

Dave Jacke, author of Edible Forest Gardens said, “Kids of all ages can learn so much from a forest garden: science, art, math can all be learned in a forest garden. A forest garden offers more learning opportunities above and beyond an everyday garden, because the focus is on designing specific ecological relationships between plants, insects, and wildlife into the garden. There has been a upsurge in interest in forest gardens all over the country since Edible Forest Gardens was published”

A group of local permaculture teachers and their students will establish the garden during a 3-day Forest Garden Immersion Course, taking place at the Dunphy School over Memorial Day Weekend, May 29th – 31st, 2010. The course is offered to adults, who learn through a mix of classroom and outdoor time. Course participants spend 10 hours of classroom time learning Forest Garden theory and design, including how to design for beneficial ecological relationships between plants, insects, and wildlife. The work of course participants, and funds generated by the course make possible the Dunphy School garden installation.

Benneth Phelps, local farmer and forest garden educator said, “The idea for the course came from an ongoing course at the Epworth Center in High Falls, New York. It’s clear from the interest in Permaculture and Forest Gardening around here, there was no question that we had to bring the course here this year.”

On Friday May 28th at 7pm, the course kicks off with a special lecture, “Gardening Like the Forest: A Forest Garden Introduction,” with Dave Jacke, co-author of Edible Forest Gardens, at the Williamsburg Grange (Route 9). This lecture is a fundraiser for the Dunphy School Forest Garden and is open to the public. $10-$25 suggested donation.

Find out more details about this course at, or email Benneth at, or Alisha at To find out more about Forest Gardening, visit

Course sponsors include Fertile Ground, School Sprouts, Food Forest Farm, Mosaic Farm and Sage Garden Designs.

Photo credit: (ccl) Lilbenne

One Comment on “Permaculture Takes Root at Hilltown School

  1. super news…way to go sally and catherine and everyone…!

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