by Becky Holcomb, staff writer
Warren Wilson is a place where traditional education boundaries don’t exist. So then why is there such a categorical perspective of our land? If you were to look at Warren Wilson through an aerial view, you would see patches of land, like a quilt, divided up into forest or pasture, with a boundary where one thing is grown and isn’t a part of the other. We cultivate our land, mostly for educational purposes, to teach and to learn. This process models traditional agriculture and forestry practices. One student named Micah Wiles had an idea while working independently with Professor David Ellum to relax the lines existent between our forests and our agriculture. Ellum described this new idea as looking at Warren Wilson as more than a pasture, more than a forest. His new agro-forestry class will require his students to look at Wilson as an area for new innovated land management techniques as well as integrated land management techniques. Wiles’ plan involves combining agriculture and forest into one along the edges of the two. The product of this combination is a forest garden that Ellum’s agro-forestry class will use to grow medicinal plants, herbs, flowers, and a combination of fruit and nut trees. Instead of having a strict division between pasture and forest, it will all be grown together to “smooth out the landscape,” according to Ellum. Wiles’ idea was funded through the Environmental Leadership Center’s Campus Greening Seed Grant program, which supports student-initiated projects for widespread campus sustainability. It will include collaboration between forest crew, garden crew, and landscaping. The Agro-forestry class is designed to give students a hands on approach with a new idea, but most importantly promotes innovative thinking and overall education about our land and new land practices.