The Green Studio, located on George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus, is a permaculture garden, outdoor studio, and lab space dedicated to hosting ecological art and design projects by students from across the arts and sciences. Founded in 2010 by Mark Cooley, associate professor in Mason’s School of Art, the Green Studio has been home to numerous projects over the years.
Jennifer Ashworth, manager of the Green Studio, 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 and was granted financial support to revamp the garden in preparation for the new academic year.
The Patriot Green Fund is 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 Patriot Green Fund Committee, which includes students, faculty, and staff, approved Ashworth’s application and awarded $1,200 toward 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 and sanctuary for native wildlife. Ashworth, who joined Mason in 2022, 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 for educational workshops and projects. By collaborating with campus classes in the arts, environmental studies, and civil engineering, she wants to create opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning experiences and develop a deeper understanding of the ecosystem and sustainable practices.
I’m excited for the next generation of students to explore the Green Studio," Ashworth said. "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.”
Individuals with innovative ideas to further enhance sustainability at Mason are encouraged to apply for funding through the Patriot Green Fund.
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