Habitat for Humanity
Syracuse, New York
Professor Don Ferlow and Maren King, Spring & Summer 2002
In 2002, Habitat for Humanity built five new houses on Seymour Street in Syracuse, New York. The CCDR is developing a pilot education program to assist the Habitat for Humanity homeowners and other urban homeowners in learning the basics of site design, plant material installation and maintenance, and gardening.
Many Habitat homeowners have never owned their own homes and may not possess the experience or skills to care for their property. In addition, many areas of urban soils are contaminated with lead and precautions are needed for growing edible plants. Suzanne Williams, director of the Syracuse chapter of Habitat, hopes that these five new houses and homeowners will be the first of a much larger effort to improve the near west side neighborhood.
The first part of this process was the preparation of site and planting designs for the new Habitat for Humanity homes. This work was undertaken by fifth-year students under the direction of Visiting Professor Don Ferlow, in consultation with Phil Craul, a soils scientist, and Maren King, the CCDR project coordinator. The students met with the Habitat staff and homeowners in a workshop in order to better understand how the homeowners intend to use the new home sites and to identify general preferences. The students developed design studies that were then presented to and reviewed with Habitat staff and homeowners.
Over the summer, the CCDR staff summarized the ideas developed in the design study, conducted further research on appropriate materials and strategies, and interviewed current Habitat homeowners to learn what challenges they encountered when moving into their home. The CCDR staff is developing an educational program to assist new urban homeowners as they consider implementation and maintenance of the residential landscape plans. The product of this work is a handbook illustrating choices and considerations for site and planting design, and proper installation and maintenance methods