The Whoo Space on Market St, has been host to a variety of community events, from an art exhibit of handmade books to campaign headquarters for Arnold Levinson in this years past Ward 3 Special Election. This past Tuesday was no different when University of Massachusetts’s Permaculture Program, in conjunction with Creative Community Collective, and a number of local residents hosted a presentation on shared community space.

According to C3’s website, “three Northampton neighbors decided to take their fences down and combine their yards to create a larger space for shared recreation and food production.” The goal was to create a Permaculture site, which C3 defines as:

…a vision, design system, and global network that draws on patterns and principles found in nature to meet human needs, while regenerating the natural world and creating abundance we can share.

The students redesigned the shared backyards into a sustainable open space,  taking down the barriers of the three neighboring backyards and integrating them into one cohesive shared area for recreation and sustainable gardens. The goal is to inspire others in the community to open to the idea of turning neighboring land into shared space for the community to gather around.

The presentation consisted of a number of design possibilities. The various options which the team of UMass students had assembled ranged from the more conservative rearrangement of bushes and minor terraforming to the highly progressive, with much of the shared backyards transformed into a super efficient organic farm powered by animals complete with rice paddies and greenhouses heated by chickens. Owen Freeman-Daniels, newly elected Ward 3 City Councilman, owns a condo on part of the property used for this project. He told our Director of Marketing that he hoped his neighbors were interested in pursuing the concept. The turnout was exceptional, with more people in attendance than the space could accommodate. Many passersby were poking in to see what the gathering was about. Each mini-presentation was followed by a short Q&A session where members of the community could gain further insight in each proposal. The group was then invited to stay and take a closer look at the various proposals drawn up by the students, as well as ask any further questions to the presenters.  Check out our gallery of photos to see the audience and designs. It was a great success, with a lot of interesting new ideas about utilizing the ever-decreasing open spaces that we have here in Northampton’s Ward 3.