Using Permaculture Methods, we were tasked with choosing a local space to transform into a thriving and sustainable landscape. Not far from the University of Cincinnati’s campus, where many students reside, is Fairview Park. The park has seen better days, and now sits manly vacant with little desirable qualities beyond its viewpoint.
The park was established in 1931, and is most well known for its stunning view over the westside of Cincinnati. The stonewalls at the overlook were built and funded by the Federal Works Project Administration. Beautiful well-established evergreen and sycamore trees line the park and act as a natural barrier to the neighboring residences.
The park is often vacant except for occasional kids playing on the jungle gym, and people visiting the overlook. Runners often take advantage of the scenery along the road, but never enter the park.
Sometime between 2015 and 2017 the public pool and adjoining building was demolished. As well, the baseball cages and soccer goals were removed.
As well, the surrounding neighborhood is one of the many communities that is a food desert within the Cincinnati area.
The pool has been filled in with unknown materials, and there is possibly a foundation layer left over from the demolished building.
The baseball field soil is sandy and will need work to replenish its quality to establish any greenery.
The site’s general soil quality is also likely poor due to years of grass monoculture.
The park is on a low-grade slope moving downward towards the overlook.
The pink arrow in the middle notes a slight change in plateaus, moving down from the baseball fields to the soccer field and meeting at the circle. With a little earthworks, this is a great opportunity for a Keypoint pond where rain water runoff will naturally collect. Irrigation lines will be dug out from the pond snaking around the park to help to water surrounding plantings.
Before considering any landscaping, we needed to look at our natural conditions.
Due to the lack of trees within the park, any area receives a great amount of sun throughout the year. This is ideal for planting a community garden which needs full sun during the growing season. However, during the summer, spots of shade will be welcomed with the inclusion of large trees or a built shelter area.
Winter winds will have some difficultly reaching the West side of the park due to the established tree line, making it an ideal area for plants and animals that need shelter from harsh winter conditions.
Using Permaculture methods, re-establish and beautify an under utilized green space so that it is once again an inviting and usable place for relaxation, meditation and escapism. Foster a sense of community and empower those within this food desert access to collect free food.
Grounds: Build a resilient and sustainable park that needs little maintenance and re-incorporates wildlife and pollinators. Free foraging will be implemented throughout the park, yielding access to free food and an introductory education into edible plants.
Community Activity Space: The inclusion of a community garden or co-op space provides healthy local food and a possible source of income. A community meeting area will be an example of an off-grid building, housing space for educational activities or other events.
The site will be kept as a recreational space. The basketball and play area will be maintained, but the park will be revamped by the inclusion of a community building and gardens, open access foraging, inviting landscapes, new hiking trails, and strategically placed shelters.
Zone 1 is the first area most people will interact with, it is also the nearest to the street parking and scenic view.
Here the playground and the new community meeting building will be housed. The intention of the community building is to foster a sense of fellowship around a space for educational activities such as cooking food off of local harvest in the kitchen. Or provide a rental area for meetings, parties, or other neighborhood events.
The community building will be an example of a completely off-grid structure with a greenhouse, solar panels, composting toilets, rain barrels, compost site, gardening supply storage, and solar compacting trash cans.
Next door to Zone 1 is the community garden inviting locals and the surrounding neighborhood access to personal plots and the joy of planting.
Swales from the Keypoint pond will be built to for irrigation of the raised beds, and cold frames will allow for year-round growing in the colder months. Trellises will be installed for growing climbing crops like hops, grapes, and squash.
Zone 2: Salsa Garden
A Salsa Garden is also included in Zone 2, but it will be a public garden. Many of the plants within in the garden are recognizable by most, making it an easy access point for those who are not as experienced with gardening or don’t wish to have an individual plot.
Crops will labeled with informational plaques and the garden will include: 1.) Tomato 2.) Basil 3.) Borage 4.) Collard 5.) Sea Kale 6.) Peppers 7.) a Nasturtium Mound 8.) Onions and 9.) Cilantro
Each of these plants are grouped together in a guild to work cohesively providing each other with natural pest protection and to share of nutrients.
Is a public green space further away from the higher traffic areas. Picnicking on the old flat soccer field is encouraged as well as foraging from the Fruit Tree and PawPaw Delight guilds. The trees will provide nice shady areas in the summertime.
The addition of a walking path invites people to further explore the space.
Zone 3: Fruit Tree Guild
The Fruit Tree Guild provides edible fruits, nuts, culinary herbs and other foods for human consumption, but also attracts pollinators, small animals and birds to stop by.
Within the guild is: 1.) Apple, Cherry and Pear trees 2.) Hazel Nut bushes 3.) Horseradish 4.) Garlic and Chives 5.) Cranberry bushes 6.) Spring Bulbs and Strawberries for ground cover.
Zone 3: PawPaw Delight Guild
The PawPaw guild is positioned on the terraces slopes since the ground covering plants mitigate soil erosion. The guild also provides food, medicine, and utility plants for the sharing of nutrient among themselves.
Included is: 1.) native PawPaw 2.) Elderberry 3.) Rosemary 4.) Tulips 5.) Oregano 6.) Comfrey and 7.) Wild Ginger
Flowers attract beneficial insects and pollinators, and small animals and birds that will feed off of the fruit, buds, bark and flowers to then drop nutrient-rich manure back into the plant matrix.
To expand without disturbing the establish tree line, a forest garden provides open foraging of edible plants at the junction between the neighbors and the park.
A walking path will be introduced to induce explorations and exercise.
The bee guild will be housed here for close proximity to the hives and the community garden for pollination. It will also be less likely disturbed here by park-goers.
Mushrooms will also flourish here providing a nice ground canopy for insulation and foraging.
Zone 4: Bee Guild
Primarily designed and integrated to attract beneficial insects and pollinators. The guild supplies herbs, teas and medicines.
The guild includes: 1.) Littleleaf Linden Tree 2.) Rosa Pomifera 3.) Lovage 4.) Spring Bulbs 5.) Dill, Parsley, Caraway, and Echinacea as well as 6.) Mint, Garlic and Chives.
The least accessible zone due to the steep drop off, offers an opening for the re-establishment of beneficial trees and wildlife.
First invasive Honeysuckle will be removed to allow other tree growth. Fruit and Nut trees will be planted to replace the gaps from the dying or dead Ash trees, and will supply a source of food for wildlife.
By using Permaculture methods, this once barren and under-utilized park will be transformed into a low-maintenance, resilient and sustainable green space. Life will be brought back in through engaging landscapes, open food access, and the surrounding community.