Sustainable EweMass opens the conversation on sustainable land management and features Hadley Farm sheep – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Twelve Hadley Farm sheep turned heads Tuesday and Wednesday on the lawn between the Isenberg School of Management and the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts. The sheep were invited onto campus as part of the Sustainable EweMass program – an event intended to open up a discussion about sustainable land management.

“It’s a cross-campus collaboration between multiple classes and faculty members and the farmers at Hadley Farm, which is the UMass farm,” explained environmental conservation and geosciences professor Britt Crow-Miller. .

“The idea is to kind of start a conversation about land stewardship and land stewardship practices on campus and in our communities,” she continued.

Sheep are grazers by nature and have been used throughout history to manage grass – an example the event hoped to show how land can be managed sustainably, without relying on fuels and pesticides.

Tables around the sheep pen explored different aspects of alternative land management methods in more detail. Most of the student-run tables were put together by UMass students in the Crow-Miller Environmental Education class, where they spent the semester imagining what they want the future of campus and Shared public land around Amherst looks like.

“One of the points the students wanted to make is that even a small change is a change,” Crow-Miller said. “We all feel overwhelmed by climate change, but making small communities feel the change is always meaningful.”

The eight tables included projects ranging from a tea station, featuring herbs grown in the university’s permaculture garden, to an “Imagining Alternative Futures” station, highlighting both the sustainable practices of UMass and other colleges and encouraging passers-by to draw how they envision an alternative to land use on campus.

An art history table, led by professor of art and architecture Meg Vickery, explored the influence of Frederick Law Olmsted and the impact of sheep on history and art. Tuesday, April 25, 2022, was Olmsted’s 200th birthday – one reason the program chose these days to host the sheep and showcase its students’ work.

Olmsted, an American landscape architect, designed New York’s Central Park, originally with sheep grazing in its grassy center. Vickery and her art history student, Amelia Ceballos, spent the semester studying the cultural and historical aspects of sheep and wool, going back even further than Olmsted. Ceballos also manages EweMass’ Instagram account, called @goewemass.

Professor Meg Vickery (left), Amelia Ceballos (right) at their art history and architecture table.

“Sheep have played a prominent role in art for millennia,” Vickery said, pointing to a poster that explained the connection between sheep and Mesopotamian culture.

“They played an important role in land management for wool, textiles, in particular. And it’s really interesting with sheep, because it’s not just about eating lamb. It’s really about the wool and the products they produce, the lanolin and the milk, and the wool,” she continued. Even famous pieces, like Michelangelo’s ‘David’, have ties to sheep – ‘David’ was funded by the wool guild in Florence, Vickery added.

One table allowed students to make “seed balls” out of clay, soil and native wildflower seeds, while another table served as a sensory reflection station. There, students could brainstorm questions about land use and management, and touch sheep’s wool and other natural objects on campus. This board focused on what Crow-Miller called the “connection to nature,” what her class learned about that semester.

Environmental science student Sophie Martin at the ‘Seed Ball’ table exploring the importance of native wildflowers.

“There’s a ton of research that shows that when people connect with their surroundings and pay attention to their surroundings and spend time outdoors and even connect with animals, there are a lot of physiological benefits and cognitive,” she said.

“So reduced stress and anxiety, better test performance, things like that. So the students really wanted to focus on using the outdoor spaces to contribute to the well-being of the students,” a- she continued.

Outdoor spaces on the University campus, as well as in the Amherst area, are constantly filmed by the UMass Camera Trap Project – a project led by wildlife conservation professor Kelly Klingler. The project featured a full board with printed images of wildlife that motion-sensing cameras witnessed over time, said environmental science student Brian Vergato.

“There are five of these camera traps directly around campus, and then 40 in the surrounding area of ​​campus. So all of these photos come directly from camera traps or personal photos that we took and then want to share,” Vergato explained. Crow-Miller also mentioned that bears, bobcats, possums, skunks, and porcupines, among other lesser-known animals, have all been captured by cameras on the UMass campus.

A scavenger hunt table, which prompted students to explore the campus and observe the plants and animals in this space, was intended to broaden their ideas of who and what constitutes the UMass campus. Encouraging the idea that people who live and attend classes on campus aren’t the only things that exist in that space, Crow-Miller said, is tied to the goal of increasing sustainable land management.

Natural Resources Conservation student, Austin Gross, showing up at the event’s scavenger hunt station.

“It all adds up to a conversation about how to use our outdoor spaces in a way that truly maximizes the well-being of our campus community, which includes students, faculty, staff, and all other creatures. who share the campus with us,” she said.

Devon Parsons, a student in the Sustainability Science graduate program, led a painting titled “Cons of Lawns.” The purpose of his table was to start a conversation about alternative methods of lawn care and to inspire people to question typical land management that has been practiced for over a century.

From left to right: Devon Parsons, Alexander Allison, Zoya Pilipovic, Kevin O’Brien.

“Your classic pristine green grass stems, like, 100 years ago from class divisions and systemic racism, which is crazy to think – that we’re still doing land stewardship, that was the point,” Parsons said. She explained that these class divisions always originated from the concept of how “weeds” are classified. Weed-free gardens have always been considered manicured, but those manicured lawns also take money, work, and time to create.

“We’ve been told what a proper lawn should look like, but why do we feel that way?” Parson asked. These disadvantages therefore include the traditional and unsustainable methods of using this lawn management.

“We sort of explain the disadvantages of lawns here and the environmental effects of gasoline addiction [and] addiction to chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers,” Parsons said. While she recognizes that not everyone can buy sheep to help prune their land, she believes that small changes can be made to make big changes.

“Like if people were to convert even a third of their lawn to rewild it, or let it grow the way it wants – without mowing it, without treatment – that could really increase pollination, which then brings more more plants, more biodiversity, which then brings more pollinators, like it’s a really good beneficial cycle,” Parsons explained.

This classroom served as a “living laboratory” for the enrolled students. They spent most of their class time working on their projects, creating their goals, and thinking about what exactly they wanted guests to take away from the experience.

It was especially important to Parsons that the class pushed them to recognize the importance of educating people of all ages that “there are alternative methods to the things we have always done. Even though it’s been done forever, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right way to do things.

Ella Adams can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ella_adams15.