This past spring, ASAP helped setup and partially fund the new Woody Perennial Polyculture research site here on the Urbana-Champaign campus (see article with more information here). This site, with its 3,200 young but quickly growing plants, aims to quantify the agricultural and ecological characteristics of this novel and diverse system. Despite one of the worst droughts in Illinois history, about 90% of the plants survived the year, and the baseline research has been off to a great start.
Last week, the project received a grant for $125,000 from the Student Sustainability Committee here on campus. The SSC is a student-led organization charged with the distribution of two student fees – the Sustainable Campus Environment Fee and the Clean Energy Technologies Fee. With the ultimate goal of making the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a leader in campus sustainability, SSC reviews, recommends, and funds projects that increase environmental stewardship, inspire change, and impact students.
The grant for this multidisciplinary project is similarly multifaceted. Funding will aid the production, education/outreach, and research aspects of the Woody Perennial Polyculture project. This will include a part-time site manager, equipment, and other expenses. One of the immediate outcomes will be the establishment of a time-lapse photography system that will document the evolving multi-canopy structure of the savanna-mimicked system. These photos will eventually be viewable from an interactive website where both students and the public can learn about the innovative approach this project is taking.
In addition to ASAP and the SSC, this project is supported by the Sustainable Student Farm and the Restoration Agriculture Institute. For more information about the project and opportunities to get involved, please contact project coordinator Kevin Wolz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by Kevin Wolz