Urban agriculture for Kendeda Building features foraging plants and honey

urban agriculture, honeybee, Georgia Tech Bee Project, edible landscape

As early as next spring, visitors to the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design should be able to enjoy fruit with very little labor. But they’ll have to wait a while for the sweetest of harvests.

The Urban Agriculture Imperative (part of the Living Building Challenge’s Place Petal) requires projects to designate a certain amount of the landscape to plants that contribute to agriculture.

Landscape architects Andropogon Associates proposed that the Kendeda Building focus most of its urban agriculture on an “edible landscape” rather than on conventional row crops. As a result, the restored woodlands immediately surrounding the building will be replete with fruit-bearing woody plants native to the Georgia Piedmont. Woody plants don’t require the soil to be disturbed.

“They are better suited for the project site conditions and in keeping with the goal of establishing a wooded landscape around the building,” noted Andropogon principal Jose Alminana.

Among the pickings will be blueberries, muscadine grapes and serviceberries, each of which can be eaten on the spot; pawpaws, a mango-like fruit that must be skinned and seeded; crabapples, which are best used in jellies or apple butter; and huckleberries, which are among several other plants to be planted on the site traditionally used by Native Americans for teas or medicinal herbs. Most plants will be installed this fall and many are unlikely bear fruit in the first year.

But honey is the future harvest already generating the most buzz in the agriculture component of the Kendeda Building. After leading a popular program to establish hives on the roof of the LEED Platinum Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons as part of the Georgia Tech Urban Honey Bee Project, biologist Jennifer Leavey helped the design team develop plans for a similar apiary on the green roof over the Kendeda Building auditorium. The bees are expected to forage on both herbaceous and woody plants around the site, including early-blooming trees.

The honeybees will share the roof with more blueberries as well as three low-intensity row crops: corn, summer squash and sunflowers. Many of the flowering plants chosen on the roof, as well as the landscape, were selected because they’re popular pollination targets for honeybees and therefore will increase honey yields

Photo of honeybee courtesy Max Pixel.

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