Nature and Nurture Seeds Farmstand Operation (2017)

Client Organization: 
Nature and Nurture, LLC
Project Location : 
Scio Township, Michigan
Summary of Project Idea: 

This project intends to explore ways to enhance the ecological, economic, and community benefit provided by local farmsteads. The potential client, Nature and Nurture Seeds is interested in a design and management plan for their farm near Dexter, Michigan. The client would like to create a farmstead operation that is: ecological restorative, productive and economically viable, and able to serve as a platform for nature and agriculture education as well as a center for community events. Thus the design and management plan aims to achieve three goals: creation of an ecologically resilient and manageable food system, expansion of opportunities for economic collaboration with other businesses in Southeast Michigan, and expanding the site’s existing use for community activities and education. An analysis of the site (including but not limited to, topography, climate data, soil conditions, hydrology, terrestrial and aquatic populations and successional processes on the site, opportunities for community involvement and education), economic scenario planning, possible opportunities for collaboration with other local businesses and agencies, and research of successful nature education spaces will guide the formation of the design and management proposals.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 

Interest in restorative agriculture, food systems planning
Landscape Design
GIS skills
Interest in nature education
Interest in local economy and business opportunities
Communication and Planning skills
Ability to work in a team
Time Management

SNRE Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Sustainable Systems
Landscape Architecture
Role for each program area: 

ConEco: Ecological Surveying of existing, plant, animal, and/or fungal populations on site and successional processes that can be used and/or augmented to meet client goals. Mostly terrestrial analysis, but will include aquatic surveying.

EPP: Perform an economic scenario plan analysis indicating a variety of economic forecasts for Southeast Michigan and form a strategic financial plan in light of scenario plan.

BEC: Research and provide recommendations to maximize effectiveness of education space. Make recommendations to maximize the site’s potential to promote psychological and physical well-being.

SS: Perform an analysis of existing site functionality, identify leaks in the energy and material loops of the site, perform a life-cycle analysis of products used on site, make recommendations to minimize the inputs required for the site to function as a productive, resilient farm and maximize its potential as a community and educational space.

LA: Implement recommendations into the design from ecological and economic analysis. Develop digital and paper copies of proposed design.

Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Ecological restoration, restoration agriculture, sustainable agriculture, organic agriculture, orcharding, nursery, homesteading, cooking and fermentation skills, ID and taxonomy of plants and fungi, seed saving and breeding, running a small business, mycology and cultivation of fungi, terrestrial ecosystems management, edible forest gardens. 

Data collected by the team could include interviews with the landowners (Mike and Erica and Mike's parents who own the land next door) and (if possible) previous landowners (Erwin Egeler and his extended family) and neighbors about historical uses of the land as well as Carl Burhop who is currently drafting our forest management plan.

Funding Sources: 

SNRE Internal Funding, (Potential) , MSU Extension Agricultural Grants (Potential)

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

Deliverables:

  • Design package: Plan view with complementary drawings to communicate design intent and proposals. 
  • Site analysis and summary of existing ecological activity with management and design recommendations (eg. Existing plant and animal populations, successional processes, soil conditions, hydrology, stormwater management, invasive species inventory)
  • Economic scenario plan: this should include a description of economic context of Southeast Michigan, and describe a variety of possible trajectories for the region’s economy. This analysis should be able to help the client regarding financial and business decision making. 
  • Review and analysis in design and environmental psychology literature regarding the design of educational spaces to promote learning, awareness, and appreciation of the natural world. A similar analysis will be required to make the space amenable to community gatherings and events.

Implementation
The team's recommendations could be used to create an initial master plan for the site and then used as a template for later updates to the plan. The research findings and design proposal would serve as a roadmap for future decision making for Nature and Nurture, LLC. Some or all of the team’s recommendations would be shared with our network as well as our future network. The team’s project could very well pave the way for more students and more projects and practicums.

Contact full name: 
Jared Aslakson
Job title: 
SNRE student
City: 
Ann Arbor
State or Country: 
MI
SNRE Faculty Advisor: 
Stanton Jones
Contact Phone: 
231-884-5376
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
SNRE student
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Jared Aslakson, MLA Landscape Architecture
  • Yihan Li, MS Conservation Ecology 
  • Michael Lordon, MS Conservation Ecology 
  • Alexandria Peters, MS/MLA Conservation Ecology/Landscape Architecture 
Project Status: 
In Progress