Educating the Public about the Design and Implementation of Sustainable Landscapes for Low-Income Communities

Veronda B. Holcombe*, and Mary T. Haque, Department of Horticulture, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0375

The concept of designing and implementing sustainable landscapes of low-income communities grew from collaboration between several community partners and Clemson University.  It was our desire to research, plan, design, and implement sustainable landscapes for Habitat for Humanity homes. The primary goal of designing for these low-income homes was to design for sustainability.  We wanted our plants to promote energy efficiency, water conservation, and low maintenance costs.  These implemented principals would help the homeowner drastically cut living costs.  The design and implementation of wildlife habitats was also encouraged to promote knowledge and research on environmental issues.  In the beginning of our design phase, we interviewed our client about her user needs/desires and later presented her with the design.  This began the exhibition and education phase of the project.  By exhibiting the project we hoped that to educate the homeowner about the sustainability issues that are pertinent to her case.  Our biggest education outreach program took place during Homecoming at Clemson University.  Partnering with other student organizations and using donated plant material from a local nursery, we constructed gardens and "planted" trees around the Habitat for Humanity house that is built each year during Homecoming and later moved by trailer to its final site.  We also displayed our designs inside the house and created pamphlets and brochures for visitors to pick up detailing such topics as Butterfly Gardening.  Spurred on by the success of this project a web page detailing our community and organizational involvement was created.  Our projects have been covered in many newspaper articles, cable TV, and in a video on service learning being produced for national distribution.  As a student, it has given me and my other student colleagues an opportunity to engage in and acquire valuable hands-on experience in horticulture and environmental education/stewardship all the while providing a much needed public outreach service that assists and partners with community members in order to enhance their personal home environments.


Preferred Presentation Type:  ORAL