Jennifer Ashworth, manager of the Green Studio, received Patriot Green Fund support to revamp the garden in preparation for the new academic year.
The Green Studio, located on the grounds of George Mason University’s School of Art, was founded by Professor Mark Cooley in 2010 as a permaculture garden and outdoor studio and lab space dedicated to hosting ecological art and design projects by students from across the arts and sciences. It has been home to numerous projects over the years and is a campus space where students can volunteer to support its operations while learning about Mason’s natural environment.
Ashworth, who was hired in 2022, wanted to elevate the space in preparation for more student projects in the future. She applied for funding through University Sustainability’s Patriot Green Fund, a $100,000 per year sustainability fund, provided by Mason Facilities, to make Mason’s campuses more sustainable through infrastructure improvements and student research projects. In May 2023, the PGF Committee, which consists of students, staff, and faculty, approved the application and awarded $1,200 towards the acquisition of new soil and plants for the garden.
An overarching goal of the project was to support the garden as a thriving ecosystem that could provide a sanctuary for native wildlife. Ashworth selected native species that would combat overgrowth and facilitate maintenance of the space while also crafting a visually appealing garden.
Beyond the immediate benefits, Ashworth has a long-term plan for the garden. She envisions it as a living, learning laboratory that fosters educational workshops and projects. By collaborating with campus classes including those in the Arts, Environmental Studies, and Civil Engineering, she wants to create opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning experiences, allowing them to develop a deeper understanding of the ecosystem and sustainable practices.
“I’m excited for the next generation of students to explore the Green Studio," said Jenn. "It’s their space - an open studio space for research, experimentation, expression, or just a space to absorb. It’s wild and beautiful and worth discovering”
To get involved and volunteer in the garden, interested individuals can visit University Sustainability’s volunteer portal or reach out to Jenn Ashworth at email@example.com.