Bluestone Pathway

 

The WestCo Courtyard features three pathways for students to traverse through without causing harm to the site. In the past, these pathways were covered in wood chips which had the advantage of having a sense of non-permanence and kept a more traditional

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Path in Progress

aesthetic value. However, wood chip pathways often need to be replaced either every year or every other year, which can end up being fairly unsustainable.

The WILD Wes summer interns of 2015 (of which I was one) saw that the pathways needed to be replaced soon or that we would have to come up with some other option. We had heard that Wesleyan’s Physical Plant department was doing some path renovations of their own around campus. Part of their infinite summer construction plans involved pulling up old broken bluestone around campus and replacing it with new stones, so instead of sending that quality material to go to waste, we took it to the courtyard to be recycled. There, we smashed it up with a sledgehammer into smaller pieces so that we could create the puzzle-like pattern seen in the final pathway. This new pathway was going to be far better in terms cost efficiency, sustainability, and artistic quality.

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Breaking Apart the Bluestone Sheets with a Sledgehammer

Just like highway construction, our own new path has surely been a work in progress. The interns in 2015 were unable to finish the pathway because they had run out of the bluestone and Physical Plant did not have any more plans to pull up other bluestone until the next summer. That is when the 2016 summer interns collected more stone, broke it to pieces, and continued the work.

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Rubble Pile

Finally, after two summers, the new bluestone path is now complete. There is currently still much of the stone left over, which will go towards potential guiding paths/stepping stones towards notable plants around the site such as the fruit trees, berry bushes, and the raised bed.

 

 

Come take a walk along the pathway and discover something new in the WILD Wes Courtyard!

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Finished Path

 

Jerusalem Artichoke

The Jerusalem Artichoke (or more specifically our flowering helianthus tuberosus) is a permaculturist’s dream. Not only does it have a pretty yellow flower, but it provides shade and requires very little work as all you have to do is harvest it after planting (which is great for permaculture philosophy)! While some consider it to be invasive, it is native to North America and was commonly used in this region by Native Americans because of its long winter storage lifespan and high caloric content. Jerusalem Artichoke is now also common in Europe and is used in many food products including wine. The tubers resemble potatoes and can be used as a calorie dense substitute, but they must be cooked first.

Come by the Courtyard and harvest yourself some Jerusalem Artichoke today!

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