Rooted in Place symposium
November 12 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Speakers in the field of ecological design will talk about their varied approaches to building resilient landscapes and communities in Berkshire Botanical Garden’s annual day-long symposium on Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will explore the breadth of what regenerative design and land stewardship means. It will feature a range of speakers with experiences as diverse as landscape design, community outreach, pollination systems restoration and farming. Participants will have the opportunity to work hands-on with the day’s speakers to design their own projects.
10 a.m. — Keynote speakers
Beyond Pollinator-Friendly: Designing Landscapes and Corridors to Support Biodiversity and Climate Resilience — Farms, wildlands, sub/urban greenways, rural communities and large-scale solar developments provide immense opportunities for expanding regional biodiversity through the implementation of native pollination systems.
What happens at the pollination scale has repercussions all the way through the food web to the largest predators and humans. Yet most efforts to restore pollinator habitat to date have increased the numbers of a few common species, rather than the range of wild pollinators needed for ecosystem resiliency. “Seeing lots of bees” does not necessarily mean that a landscape is pollinator-friendly.
Evan Abramson is a results-driven designer and planner on a mission to rebuild biologically diverse ecosystems through pollinator-plant interactions. As founder and principal of Landscape Interactions, he works closely with project partners along every step of the process, from conception through design, implementation and maintenance.
Since 2019, Landscape Interactions has been responsible for over 300 acres of habitat installed in the Northeast, specifically targeting at-risk bee and lepidoptera species for each project location. He holds a Master of Science in Ecological Design from the Conway School of Landscape Design, Certificates in Permaculture Design and Biodynamic Gardening, and is the author of numerous publications, including Pollinate Now; Lincoln Pollinator Action Plan; Egremont Pollinator Pathway; and Great Barrington Pollinator Action Plan.
Regenerative agriculture and agroforestry: Food, soil health, and diversity on the farmscape — Commencing with an overview of regenerative agriculture and agroforestry practices and examples of farms and farmers using these approaches, participants will glean insight into the exciting potential and rising interest in combating habitat loss, soil degradation, and farm insecurity through this work. Jono Neiger and his work at Regenerative Design Group work to support local farms in their transition to more regenerative systems through planning and design, technical support, soil health practices, and water and soil management.
Jono Neiger leads the Regenerative Agriculture Wing at Regenerative Design Group (RDG). He has 30 years of professional experience in permaculture, site planning, agroforestry, conservation, and restoration. Jono teaches widely at colleges, workshops, and conferences. He has taught at The Conway School and was the founding Board President of the Permaculture Association of the Northeast.
Before starting RDG, Jono worked as a land manager for Lost Valley Educational Center, a Conservation Officer for the Town of Palmer, MA and a Restoration Specialist with the Nature Conservancy. He holds a MALD from The Conway School and a BS in Forest Biology from S.U.N.Y. College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Jono is the author of The Permaculture Promise and the founder of Big River Chestnuts, a chestnut agroforestry farm in Sunderland, MA.
11:15 a.m. — panel discussion
Volunteer and Municipal Partnerships: Advocating for and Accessing Ecological Design to Ensure Food Sovereignty and Climate Resiliency in Public Spaces
Moderator: Elizabeth Keen, Panelists: Marie Chieppo, Owen Wormser, Jim Schultz
Elizabeth Keen has been farming at Indian Line Farm in South Egremont, Mass., for 26 years. She runs a successful CSA farm, sells at the Great Barrington Farmers Market and to a few stores and restaurants. Elizabeth has been an active member for over 20 years of the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training program which trains future farmers.
She is active in state agricultural issues as she is in her 5th year of being on the Agricultural Board for the Commonwealth now under Commissioner Ashley Randle, and is the President of the Egremont Agricultural Commission. After encouraging the Town of Egremont to become the third Pollinator Friendly Community in Massachusetts, she worked with volunteers to install a 10,000 square foot pollinator garden at French Park.
Marie Chieppo is a certified native plant designer and horticulturalist who works with natural systems to create beautiful resilient landscapes. Her background in science provides a valuable framework for her ecological work. Now in her 26th year of business, her focus is educating and working with people to help them be good land stewards by helping them design with purpose. Marie works with communities, homeowners, and businesses to improve biodiversity for pollinators, wildlife and people. She is devoted to increasing the supply of native species throughout New England by working with amazing propagators and nursery owners.
Owen Wormser received a degree in landscape architecture in 1998. Owen is the principal at Abound Design, which provides design and installation services with a focus on creating sustainability, regeneration, and beauty. In 2016, he co-founded a nonprofit, Local Harmony, that initiates and installs local regenerative projects built entirely with volunteers and community support. His first book, Lawns Into Meadows, Growing a Regenerative Landscape, was released in 2020. A newly revised second edition of Lawns Into Meadows was released in the fall of 2022.
Jim Schultz is a second-career farmer and has a long history in agriculture. In his late teens and 20s, he immersed himself in organic agriculture before turning his attention to making a living and raising his family. In early 2015, Schultz retired at 53 from Pittsfield public schools, and he and his wife, Annie Smith, launched Red Shirt Farm as a full-fledged business. Schultz has ample production to supply the farm’s booths at two busy farmers markets, and to feed the hundred households in the farm’s community-supported agriculture program. This year, Red Shirt Farm will debut a farm store and community commercial kitchen on Route 7 to offer local food choices and opportunities for learning in Lanesborough, Mass.
12:15 p.m. Lunch
12:45 p.m. Tour of BBG’s trees
Tom Ingersoll, Ingersoll Land Care and Trustee at Berkshire Botanical Garden, Massachusetts Certified Arborist
1:30 p.m. Workshop: Design for Resiliency
Participate in an ecological landscape design charette. Participants will be divided into teams and tasked to create a design for a site with a particular set of criteria or purpose.
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