URBAN LAND REVITALIZATION
The ideal place to begin to "put nature back" and to improve community vitality is on unwanted urban land. Using our ecological design expertise, LandHealth works with urban communities to identify, design, and build projects on underutilized and vacant land.
Our projects empower community activation and ecological restoration, creating value for both people and nature. The result is a story of transformation, as we convert distressed land into inspirational spaces in which the ecosystem and the community flourish.
As part of the Urban Arboreta project, LandHealth Institute has activated a previously vacant lot in West Philadelphia to feature community gardens, grassland, wooded trails, and our own Native Plant Nursery. We provide educational experiences for our educational programs and other non-profit programs such as SpArc Philly, offering active engagement with nature to the Philadelphian community.
PLANNING AND DESIGN
LandHealth Institute offers professional services in ecological design, land health planning, and surveying of natural and cultural assets. We study and interpret land for appropriate space usage while planning for long-term ecological vitality. We create spaces that invite human engagement and reflect careful consideration of the legacy we are leaving for the humans and other species who will come after us.
KELLY GREEN PROJECT
JOHN B. KELLY SCHOOL MEADOW
LandHealth Institute partnered with the Kelly Green Project to transform a weedy patch of grass into a “pocket meadow” habitat in the front yard of the John B. Kelly Elementary School. Students now have access to a natural landscape in which they can play, learn and reconnect with nature.
Meadows serve an important ecological role, though there is little meadow left in Pennsylvania. They support a crucial variety of life at the bottom of the food web, such as soil-inhabiting organisms, insects, and small mammals. Meadows are also a critical resource for pollinating insects such as bees, as well as birds, snakes, and larger mammals. Meadows provide habitat and cover for this wildlife, build soil health, and filter polluted water.
Over the past several years, interest in greening Philadelphia schoolyards has skyrocketed. However, schools are discovering that the process can take many years, is extremely costly, and requires significant expertise, time, and resources. LandHealth Institute offers a cost-effective and immediately impactful approach to schoolyard greening. We maximize the educational possibilities on the schoolyard and minimize costs by:
expanding on existing natural features
coaching teachers and staff on how to effectively tie outdoor features into curriculum and engage students with the space
providing long-term experiential educational programming to students
mobilizing the school community to assist with installation, maintenance, and use of the space
LAND REVITALIZATION PROJECTS
East Mount Airy, Philadelphia
LandHealth Institute designed and coordinated the installation of a natural playscape and outdoor classroom area in Emlen’s schoolyard – once a shadeless expanse of asphalt. This new amenity acts as an outdoor classroom as well as a creative playscape. This project showcases what can be accomplished with only $5,000 and a dedicated team of volunteers.
Urban Arboreta is an innovative and community-driven model for transforming vacant lots into hybrid spaces for nursery production, green entrepreneurship and neighborhood use. This transformation will improve the ecological, social, and economic health of a neighborhood by offering a new model for community-based job training, local economic development and neighborhood engagement.
W.B. SAUL HIGH SCHOOL
Working with the Community Design Collaborative of Philadelphia, LandHealth Institute helped create a master plan for the W.B. Saul High School. LandHealth designed an interpretive trail that weaves together outdoor educational elements to enrich students’ experience on campus. LandHealth also piloted the ProFESS educational program with a small group of students at Saul in Spring 2015.
Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
BRYN ATHYN MEADOW
Bryn Athyn College is a small liberal arts college. The campus features 10-acre meadow which was low in species diversity and inaccessible to students. LandHealth Institute was tasked with reimagining the meadow and rain garden as vibrant amenities that increase the biodiversity and educational value of the campus. LandHealth established a comprehensive plan to transform this space into a diverse bog garden.
PLAYGROUNDS FOR USEFUL KNOWLEDGE
Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge, conceived by Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra), curated by Lucia Sanroman, and managed by Philadelphia Mural Arts’ Restored Spaces Initiative, was a temporary installation on a vacant lot in South Philly which served as a platform to share collective and individual knowledge.
LandHealth Institute was invited to collaborate with Restored Spaces and CohStra to re-envision and reuse litter and debris on the lot as cultural artifacts, design features, and educational tools around which LHI developed and executed a series of community workshops.
This suburban school has taken great initiative to implement a variety of sustainable elements on its campus to enrich student's appreciation and knowledge of their environment. Student gardens watered by rain barrels, gathering spaces made from reused materials, stormwater management features, and rich nature trails dot the property, but without a plan for helping teachers to bring their students outside and incorporate these features into the curriculum, these elements are rarely used. LandHealth Institute provides master plan services for the school to unify its piecemeal elements into a more meaningful educational experience, as well as strategies to help teachers incorporate elements from the rich natural landscape into their curricula.
Armonk, New York
LOUIS CALDER CENTER - FORDHAM UNIVERSITY
Twenty five miles north of Fordham University's main campus lies the Louis Calder Center: a 115-acre field station used by graduate students of the University conducting biological and ecological research. The Center lacks community awareness, as well as the diverse habitats necessary for ecological research. LandHealth Institute provides master planning services to increase the Center's visibility in the community through events and landscaping. LandHealth is also strategizing methods to increase habitat value and diversity in the area.
GLADWYNE JEWISH MEMORIAL CEMETERY
Forgotten for over half a century, this historic cemetery-turned-forest has become a stunning landscape. Just barely escaping development on a number of occasions, the cemetery has been taken over by the Friends of the Gladwyne Jewish Memorial Cemetery, who hired LandHealth Institute to create a master plan for the cemetery’s future. The plan examines strategies to allow the public to access the site, as well as provide a safe, inspirational experience that capitalizes on the enchanting natural beauty that has overtaken the cemetery in the decades since its abandonment.