While classroom instruction certainly has its place, students also learn by doing. With that in mind, Auburn University’s College of Agriculture has initiated a project to fund and manage a hands-on teaching garden where students can engage in agricultural fieldwork.
A master plan has been designed by David Hill, founder of Hillworks Landscape and Architecture Studio in Auburn and associate professor in Auburn University’s Graduate Landscape Architecture Program. Preliminary site work has been completed and the garden will be developed in phases.
The 11.3-acre garden is adjacent to the university’s circa 1898 Old Rotation, the oldest continuous cotton experiment in the world and the third oldest field crop experiment on the same site in the United States.
Hill says the goal is to provide an overall armature for the garden, and create well-defined paths and plots. Within that framework, students and their instructors can use each plot as they see fit.
“We’re trying to do a patchwork quilt on the landscape, with each demonstration plot having its own theme,” Hill explains. “It will be an ever-evolving landscape. Students will build a lot of the garden as part of their coursework, and a few semesters later another class might rework it.
Along with teaching, the garden will be used for research and demonstrations. Visitors will be able to learn about the crops, trees and other plantings with informative signs placed along the pathways.
Later phases include a walking and bike trail that will extend from the nearby Donald E. Davis Arboretum and connect to Auburn University’s new performing arts center site that is under construction.
In addition to the garden, the master plan includes greenhouses and a pavilion for classes and outreach programs. The plan also calls for students to grow produce in the greenhouses, which will be served in dining sites through the Auburn University campus.
“It’s very much a dynamic landscape,” Hill adds.
Image 1 -A fruit orchard and space for master gardeners are incorporated into the teaching garden, which will not only benefit current students but also provide a place for the community to enjoy. In addition, tours will be offered to prospective students.
Image 2-Plans call for a variety of plots designed for different functions. These include a medicinal garden, as well as space for turf grass science and field crops.
Image 3- Greenhouses to grow produce for the university’s dining facilities are also part of the overall plan, as are bee hives and a vineya
*Article By Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of Hillworks Landscape and Architecture Studio