Grounds and Landscaping

Prayer Flags on Arapahoe Green

For more than twenty years, Naropa University landscapers have used environmentally sound practices, creating a campus that is a model of sustainability and regenerative land management. Always innovative and seeking to improve, Naropa University currently uses the following approaches to eco-landscaping:

  • Composting all plant material.
  • Creating habitat for bees and pollinators.
  • Never using any "cides" - no pesticides, herbicides, etc.
  • Planting many edible and medicinal plants.
  • Using products that are biodegradable and/or organic.
  • Always incorporating principles of permaculture.
  • Actively working to improve water conservation by upgrading and modifying existing irrigation systems.
  • Incorporating new technology at the Paramita Campus, such as subsurface irrigation linked to an on-site weather station that supplies water to the lawn and gardens only in the proper quantities and only at the proper times. By delivering water directly to the root zone, evaporation is all but eliminated. In what is known as "fertigation," organic liquid fertilizers also flow through the irrigation system, delivering minute and constant levels of fertilizer throughout the growing season, which improves plant health and reduces maintenance.
  • Phasing out the use of fossil fuel equipment by purchasing electric mowers and trimmers, as well as through the use of biodiesel for the maintenance truck and bobcat.

Edible Landscaping

At Naropa we incorporate edible and medicinal plants into the landscape to engage the community and contribute to a regenerative, sustainable ecosystem. With edibles, the landscape becomes more personal, interactive, and bountiful. Many of the plants serve as food and habitat for bees and pollinators and several Naropa classes utilize the edible landscape for teaching and coursework.

Below are maps of most of the edible and medicinal plants on our campuses.

Naropa Food Forest

Food Forest Plans (click to enlarge)

Naropa Food Forest Design Plan
Naropa Food Forest Design Plan

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William D. Jones Community Greenhouse

An Expression of Naropa's Commitment

William D. Jones Community Greenhouse Exterior

The greenhouse enhances learning opportunities built around horticulture methods, permaculture, ecological system sciences and environmental philosophies such as deep ecology. In addition, it provides plants for campus landscaping, vegetables for the Naropa Café, and seedlings for the Boulder community. As a tangible manifestation of Naropa University's environmental commitment, the greenhouse inspires the community to both learn more and do more to foster a healthy relationship with nature.

The Project

The Naropa University Greenhouse Project was initiated by eight students in the fall 2006 Advanced Applied Horticulture class, who envisioned a campus that could exemplify alternative food production methods. Excitement grew, and some of those students carried the project beyond the "class project phase," introducing it to the greater Naropa community. As the buzz spread, members of the Environmental Studies Department, Facilities, Office of University Advancement, Operations and adjunct faculty members signed on to help, making the project a community effort. A site near the Naropa Tea House was chosen for construction of the greenhouse, which was completed in fall 2008. Its grand opening celebration took place on Earth Day 2009, featuring a talk, "Growing Strong Communities: Lessons from the Naropa Community Greenhouse," by former ombudsman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Robert Martin.

The Structure

Permaculture Lab

Design

The permaculture instructor and students manage the greenhouse to be a sound example of permaculture principles in action. Management practices strive to make as many connections between different features as possible.

One example of this is that the greenhouse has a wintertime deficiency of warmth and carbon dioxide. There is also a surplus of slugs and sow bugs, which are detrimental to plants. Adding domestic quail to the greenhouse accomplishes management of these needs and surpluses, as the quail provide body heat and carbon dioxide to the greenhouse, and will also eat the slugs and sow bugs. In this way, the problems become solutions, as they suggest an available niche in the ecology, and by adding quail, additional yields of eggs and meat are obtained.

Plants

A sample of plants grown in the greenhouse are fig, lemon, pineapple guava, pomegranate, tea, kumquat, passion fruit, spineless nopale, lemongrass, rosemary, water chestnut, and yacon. As indicated by the type of plants, a subtropical environment is attempting to be maintained with no winter heating or lighting required. The greenhouse has yet to be challenged by near-record cold, but so far the strategies employed have proven successful.

For more information about on-campus permaculture projects, please visit Permaculture Design and Research on Campus.