A good system strategy is to break down the system into discrete parts. For me (and at Mezzacello) I prefer these three: Pattern, Structure, and Process. Mezzacello is an enclosed ecosystem by design with three gardens that reflect, support, and build on each other. The patterns are farmhouse, urban garden with livestock, and fine urban gardens. The structure is also three-fold: Farmhouse and service yards, the farm/garden/livestock area, and the formal garden rooms/paths/open lawn areas. The process is also (surprise!) a three-part system: The farmhouse provides food/tools/wastes for the urban farm animals and aquatic animals in the urban farmyard which in turn provides compost/manure and biomass for the formal gardens which in turn provide compost/beauty/space for the other two discrete ecosystems and the process repeats.

At street level it might be hard to recognize the three enclosed ecosystems at Mezzacello. There are on Twentieth Street the east-facing traditional gardens that one would expect: the formal gardens that one expects in an urban environment. These begin to blend into the broad lawns that sprawl south to north and include the 2,500 gallon aquatic garden and herb beds. At the southeast of the property behind a simple picket fence lay the food and livestock gardens. Then there are the built human environments of the house where the humans lived and provided resources to those gardens. The last is the enclosed environments that are comprised of the whole of Mezzacello and how it fits into the neighborhood at large. This last garden was the garden of my neighborhood.

Mezzacello and its human and animal occupants do not seek to exist alone in this context. Instead, we welcome our neighbors and schools of students eager to learn more about our mission. This is my favorite aspect of the systems approach we take at Mezzacello. We want our gardens to grow and thrive, and conversely, we want our neighbors and community to grow and thrive. This is a brilliant and thrilling opportunity to celebrate and employ diversity. Diversity is the most powerful tool in nature’s arsenal. We are proud that our systems approach to life takes great advantage of what is here, what has been and what has yet to grow and thrive. Life attracts life. That is the systems way. Welcome to Mezzacello.

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