Building Mezzacello In Stakes, Strings, and CAD

Now that Mezzacello is finally at its complete Phase 2.0, we should take a moment to discuss style and vision. This the blog entry that discusses Building Mezzacello In Stakes, Strings, CAD and Bursts and reveals how the two minds of Mezzacello think and work.

The scientist and the gentleman.

Background is Key

Rick is a child of the south. He was raised by decent hard-working family with strong roots in America’s east coast. He was with a military influence in established and historic towns with names like New Bern, Alexandria, Washington DC.

The Architect

Rick’s early training was in drafting and architecture. He was exposed to culture, style, proportion, and grace. He learned survey skills early and applies those skills rigorously.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the formal gentility of the East-facing gardens at Mezzacello. The gardens are grand, spacious, elegant, and graceful. There is a strong sense of place there and they are well-built.

The Wolf

Jim in the other hand was raised by wolves in the middle of the Mojave desert in California. A transplant to Ohio as a teen he grew to adulthood in Appalachia as a stranger in a strange land. But he was creative and resourceful, but mostly feral.

Every project in the West-facing gardens at Mezzacello were meticulously designed in CAD and planned to be part of an overlapping systems engineering and agricultural ecosystems master plan. Laser aligned, but poorly executed. The systems fit in a box, but they are not precise; you can see that from the air as well.

Why Is All This Important? Diversity

Mezzacello is both an ecosystem and an organism, a place and a machine, and a learning lab and a home. It is diverse, robust, sustainable, structured, and chaotic. Great things happen here and bad things happen here, but the diversity is the key strategic innovation to promote adaptability, flexibility, and stability – and life!

Oh! It would be even more wonky if I wasn’t there to pitch a fit!

Richard Riley

Raising The Stakes and The Great Shift

The real shift in the mission and vision of Mezzacello came around 2018 when we mutually decided that the 5 meter wide stretch of lawn that splits the property north and south should be a shared resource. At the time the only resources that were there were the pergola for shade and outdoor meals, and the grass, to allow the chickens and ducks to roam in the chicken tractor and destroy grass pests and grubs – and improve the soil!

We had an original vision for this stretch of yard; The DMZ. In fact we even referred to the gardens as South Korea to the east and North Korea to the west. You can see it defined on the east by the straight lines and formal geometries of the formal gardens and on the west by the line of picket fencing that denotes the urban farm components of Mezzacello.

However by 2018 we quickly began to realize that this strategy was unsustainable and reckless. We added the pond the year earlier and we loved having this new aquatic ecosystem and resource – along with all of its headaches! But we KNEW it was a folly to not maximize this space in the service of our mission to Grow, Maintain, Sustain, and Explain.

Where Worlds Collide

It started with the pond. We needed water, and algae and fish, and the related systems integration that would afford both gardens. The pond was the first concession, well built and designed and still a bit chaotic. A true collaboration.

Then came the herb gardens and the parterres. We poured all of our design skills and bio-ag research into those beds. Strong, sustainable and drought-resistant soil, and a formal boxwood parterre that neatly holds a variety of herbs and pollinator beneficials as well as provides the perfect micro-climate to extend tender seasonal herbs well into winter.

Those two new ecosystems became the integral innovation that really united Mezzacello and it’s multiple sustainable and self-enclosed ecosystems. From this reality we adapted our motto of “Poor Boys Have Poor Ways” to include “Every System Should have three inputs and Five to Eight Outputs“. And we never looked back.

Rick’s formalism and sense of style and proportion and Jim’s insatiable curiosity and love of science and research reinvigorated Mezzacello and launched the first formal Learning Lab partnerships. These qualities make Mezzacello unique and the diversity allows life to flourish and it encourages communities to grow. Diversity is the key strategy in a garden and in a marriage — in fact, it is key in any collaboration of any sort.

Stay tuned, there will be more to come. In the meantime share with me ways that you create diversity and sustainability in your gardens and discourage and optimize waste? Do you compost, reuse and recycle? Do you integrate animals into your gardens? You know I am curious, but far less feral these days! LOL!

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