More than a hundred FAMU students, faculty, and staff pitched in during workdays in November 2014 to revitalize GreenCo Park, which is located between Lee and Jackson Davis halls. The result is a garden featuring native plants that are well adapted to the local environment and that should thrive with minimal water consumption, making the garden a true expression of sustainability as well as beauty. The park is named for FAMU’s Green Coalition, a student organization that is open to all FAMU students, staff, and faculty with an interest in making a positive change for a greener world.
The FAMU Green Coalition originated the idea for sprucing up the garden, which was initially designed by landscape students and faculty and installed in 2010. The park project was funded as part of a 2012 grant award from Siemens Corporation for $25,000 to support projects to engage FAMU students in campus sustainability initiatives. Siemens National Sustainability Education Director Charley Cohen was a strong advocate for the park revitalization effort as an expression of student involvement in campus greening.
The design for new plantings and pathways was donated by Tallahassee landscape architect David Cowles, who earned his master’s in landscape architecture from FAMU in 2010, and whose firm, Cowles Landscape Architecture, provides landscape architecture services in North Florida and beyond. Cowles developed a landscape plan aimed at densifying the park’s vegetation with new plantings of flowers, shrubs, grasses and trees, while keeping the original design concept of “The Clearing.” Cowles provided his design services at no cost to the university and also helped coordinate the planting.
“We were excited about the beautification of GreenCo Park and we welcomed the challenge to complete it,” said Green Coalition President Kesha Ellis. “We even had a lot of students who wanted to become a member of FAMU Green Coalition after this event.” Green Coalition member Tedra Cooper noted, “It was a lot of hard work, but in the end, it was laughter, smiles, and satisfaction of the work that was done.” Angely A. Tiburcio, Vice-President of FAMU Green Coalition, noted that the project demonstrates the support from the student body, faculty, and administration to bring sustainability to the FAMU campus.
The project was enthusiastically supported by Green Coalition co-advisors Olivier Chamel, a professor in the School of Architecture, and Abena Ojetayo, FAMU Sustainability Institute chief executive officer. “This park illustrates the willingness of students to engage in hands-on efforts to spur the evolution of FAMU as a living laboratory of sustainability,” said Ojetayo. The efforts of the FAMU Plant Operations and Maintenance (POM) department were crucial to the project, doing advance work on the site to remove old materials, repair irrigation lines, install new topsoil and supply equipment and tools for the volunteers. One crucial repair carried out by POM staff was fixing the rain-fed irrigation system that captures rain falling on the roof of Jackson Davis Hall, sending it from gutters into a tank behind the hall. The tank is connected to the irrigation system. Thanks to the rooftop collection system, the garden can be watered primarily by rainwater, making it nearly self-sustaining for water use.
Other assistance for the project came from the Royal Court. Miss Florida A&M, Dominique James, helped to promote turn-out and was on hand to help with the plantings.
The garden was dedicated as part of FAMU’s Earth Month festivities on April 24.