Spring is an exciting time. Plants and animals emerge from dormancy and hibernation. Color returns to the landscape. There is a feeling of anticipation. At Conway there is the additional excitement of the students’ third and final term, the culmination of their work for the program. The spring term projects are plans or designs for a large site such as a farm, college campus, town center, city park, extensive conservation area, or other open space. Students gather input from stakeholders and create plan sets with designs, employing the site analysis and design skills they learned for their fall projects along with the community engagement and planning skills and strategies they practiced during the winter projects. We are happy to introduce the community groups, organizations, and municipalities from across the state who will be partnering with our students for their spring projects. The completed projects will offer thoughtful, long-term solutions to clients that address community needs in consideration of ecological impacts and long-term resilience. Partners come away with plans that are holistic, grounded in the realities of the host communities, and feasible within the scope presented (for sample projects, see csld.edu/real-projects/project-list/).

 

Spring term projects for 2024 cover a breadth of needs and communities, from forest farms to municipal park redesigns. Conway’s nine student teams will each work closely with a core team of three to five community members. Each project contains multiple opportunities for community engagement between April and June. The selected projects are as follows:

 

D.W. Field Park Climate Resilience Project (Avon, MA): D.W. Field Park is a well-loved, 650-acre municipal park in eastern Massachusetts. Wildlands Trust, the Friends of D.W. Field Park, the City of Brockton, and the Town of Avon are working together to restore and revitalize this community resource, in a series of phased projects. This 2024 project builds on a 2023 Conway School spring project. This project is funded through a grant from the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program.

 

Charlemont Fairgrounds (Charlemont, MA): Conway students will provide a redesign of this 24-acre fairgrounds to transform it into a gathering place for the community, a year-round park hosting a variety of events where individuals and groups can use the space for social and educational purposes. 

 

A Revitalized Home Base For the Greenagers, April Hill (South Egremont, MA): Greenagers is a non-profit in Berkshire County that trains young people in various green jobs and provides work opportunities through contracts with local communities. Conway students will evaluate the land and water resources for Greenagers’ April Hill properties, and provide a proposed design that builds on the work that Greenagers has already done, while facilitating an exploration of the Greenager community’s needs and wants for the future. This project is funded in part through a grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.

 

Main Street Bridge Climate Resilience Project (Hampden, MA):  In support of an urgent and necessary bridge replacement project, the Conway team will work  with the Town of Hampden, Mass Audubon, and the engineering firm Howard Stein Hudson to provide designs for nature-based solutions to address flooding and water quantity/quality changes related to climate change. This project is funded through a grant from the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program. 

 

The Harmonium Botanical Sanctuary and Retreat Center (Conway, MA): Conway students will work with Harmonium caretakers to provide initial design ideas for a new retreat center including consideration of possible trail design, permaculture, and gathering spaces.

 

Nolumbeka Project (Greenfield, MA): Conway students will provide designs for a property stewarded by the Nolumbeka Project, a non-profit “dedicated to the preservation of the history of Native Americans/American Indians of New England through educational programs, art, history, music, heritage seed preservation and cultural events.” Designs will take historical, current, and potential future uses of the land into consideration. Traditional Ecological Knowledge will inform the design concepts. This project is supported by a grant from Greenfield Savings Bank.

 

Conway students will work in both Ashfield and Springfield, MA on projects funded by the USDA’s Equity in Conservation Program Grants. One Conway team will design a rural food forest at the Double Edge Theater properties in Ashfield, while a second team will design an urban food forest at the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence in Springfield. 

 

Wainer Woods (Westport, MA): Conway students will provide restoration and design plans for Native American gathering spaces and other activities which consider past land-based uses and utilize Traditional Ecological Knowledge. This project is being completed in partnership with the Pocasset and Pokanoket Land Trust.

 

Students will present their findings and preliminary planning details at our upcoming Spring Works-in-Progress Presentations on Friday, May 24th. Members of the public are invited to attend these presentations via Zoom. Attendance is free, and more information can be found on the event registration page.