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Occupy Vacant Lots Project Constructs a Pre-Fab Shed for Urban Gardeners
Students at Green Mountain College (GMC) recently took on a mission to develop a shed for urban farmers that would suit the needs of the gardeners of the future. The OVaL Shed — otherwise known as the Occupy Vacant Lots — is their final design, and it features a butterfly roof, rainwater collection, recycled materials, and a customizable plan. The project was designed by 20 students as part of GMC’s Renewable Energy and Ecodesign (REED) certificate program, and it now sits at its final resting place on the GMC campus where it will nurture plants for the Champlain Valley Native Plant Restoration Nursery operated by the Nature Conservancy.
The 9’ X 14’ OVaL Shed functions as a storage space and greenhouse while gathering grey water via its butterfly roof and rainwater collection system. The 20 students assigned to the project interviewed local urban farmers to gather information about the needs that had to be met in the urban growing community. They then drew up plans and constructed the prototype of the shed from recycled and readily available commercial materials.
The group will eventually be sharing the plans for the shed online for anyone to use and it was important to make the shed as easy to build as possible. It is a modular design that can be built off site, transported in the bed of a pickup truck and reassembled in a matter of hours, once constructed the design features movable walls so that the shed occupiers can rearrange it to fit their seasonal needs — more space for growing in the spring and storing in the winter. The wood siding on the prototype was sourced from a local mill and sealed with beeswax, the roof features a solar thermal water heater and the walls and roof are insulated with cellulose insulation. The final resting place for the OVaL shed prototype is on the Green Mountain College campus where it will help the Nature Conservancy raise riparian plants to reinforce river and stream beds in the surrounding area.
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