Pressing urban issues such as stormwater management, habitat fragmentation, and urban landscape vacancy are all set against a backdrop of growing uncertainty caused by global climate destabilization. These issues, while daunting, offer unique opportunities for research and action centered on the development of the urban forest, but only if we are collectively willing to rethink the form, program, and management of our cities. By applying the science of tre(e)conomics, cities can develop strategies for urban habitat to be created in spaces currently occupied by acres of ecologically detrimental turfgrass. Stormwater runoff can be slowed, cleansed, infiltrated, or possibly even drawn out of the soil by using experimental techniques such as phytodrainage. Post-industrial cities with acres and acres of vacant landscape can begin to explore new tree-based economies such as the growing of local produce in urban orchards or the production of lumber from such fast growing trees as Black Locust, which produces lumber with density such that it requires no chemical preservatives to protect it from the elements. Finally, new research and experimentation on issues such as tree genotypes may help us predict how global warming will affect the health of our urban and rural forests and plan accordingly. The Tre(e)conomics strategy utilizes the concept of design economies as systems of exchange. This reconceptualization of landscape elements and systems supports a departure from traditional, scenographic approaches to site planning towards more performance-based design ideas. These performative strategies promote innovation and exchange across disciplinary and programmatic boundaries and promote greater resiliency of the Springsbury Farm site when considered as a whole.

The t.school is a hands-on training program that prepares students for landscape management, forestry, and restoration ecology related careers such as arboriculturist, orchard manager, or urban forester. The curriculum is developed to support students at several stages in their career development ranging from recent graduates to those interested in finding a new career or a mid-career ‘retooling’. The school leverages the capacities of the site such as potential residency options, the collaborative, knowledge-sharing environment provided by the Research Outpost, and several on-site training landscapes such as the orchards, biomass plots, etc. Beyond these site-based opportunities, the school will also develop partnerships with local municipalities, the Department of Natural Resources, county governments, and regional nonprofits in order to increase students’ exposure to real world applications and help disseminate best practices developed at Casey Tree Farm more broadly.

In Collaboration with Landscape Intelligence

_2nd Place, Casey Tree Farm Competition 2013