Expanding the Growing Area of Mezzacello 2023
Expanding the Growing Area of Mezzacello 2023 means I needed to move OUT of the potager section and into the common areas. The benefit of doing this is that I can control the soil and water ratios better and build automated watering systems straight from the Bioreactor. The secondary benefit is that i can grow WAY more delicious greens and veg that the groundhogs and chickens can’t get to it!
The Original Proof Of Concept
Previous to this large expansion, I only had one system of raised growing beds. This was my Vegepod system. I really like this system, but it is too monolithic to place on my footprint.
The vegepod system was my proof of concept that I could create specific microclimates for growing vegetables like lettuce, spinach, carrots, and cabbage that my nuissance predators love to munch on. The added cover was a bonus I will probably adapt to the new beds in the near future.
Massive Water Savings
Because these raised beds are centrally located around the bioreactor tower, I can automatically water them with rain water using solar and wind power. This will save me a lot of time and energy – and water! In addition, each of the wood and steel beds is a forest floor ecology, so it stores and recycles its on water.
The Forest Floor Structure
The structure of these wood and steel lined beds is conducive to creating swales. The interior is lined with EPDP rubber and there is a 18cm deep pond structure at the base of each of these beds. This is to store and distribute water INSIDE the planter box.
In the base of these raised beds are two concrete cinder blocks resting on pool noodles with a core of PVC. This keeps the blocks from puncturing the lining, and the pool noodles allow water to circulate around and fill the cinder block reservoirs. There are weep holes spaced at 20cm so that the reservoir doesn’t drown the soil life.
Around these cinder block reservoirs (topped with plastic sheet so the dirst stays out of the reservoir) are placed logs from tree branches that have fallen at Mezzacello. Then there are branches and twigs, moss, leaves, manure, grass, and more leaves. Finally they are topped with topsoil and dressed with compost and hummus.
Eventual Sustainability and Charity
The beauty of this system is that not only will it water itself, it will continue to transform into a nutrient dense system that will support root growth and become more and more self-sustaining as entropy continues to rot everything down. And everything in them came from Mezzacello or donations.
Thanks and Highlighting Partners
I was able to build out this vision thanks to the generous support of sponsors, donors, corporations, and friends. I will call them out here. Please keep giving to community gardens, if for no other reason, they can use this data to make themselves more sustainable as well!
- Scott’s Miracle Gro
- Franklin Park Conservatory
- Bronzeville Growers Market
- JuliaLynne Walker
- City of Columbus Parks and Recreation
- Lisa and Craig
- Rebecca Rappaport-Ness
- Love Your Alley
- Chase Hughes
- Angela Siefer
- Sean McKay
- NDIA – Digital Inclusion
- PAST Foundation
- Columbus Foundation
- Teach The Grower
This is a part of the City of Columbus Parks and Recreation Summer Grant Grant #1521-2023