Building and Structural Design: Designing and building structures to support the farm’s mission is a complex and ongoing process. Working with the natural environment, selecting the best materials, integrating renewable energy systems, planning for maintenance and sustainability, and finding the balance between functionality and aesthetics are just a few of the considerations.
Data Collection and Analysis: We think of RTB as a living laboratory. Your students can use the farm as a creative place to practice observation skills, the scientific method, or collect and analyze data.
Energy and Matter: The farm is a poignant example of how energy flows through systems. Inputs and outputs are the basic building blocks of life on the farm. How plants and animals are grown and transformed into food, how the sun’s energy is used, or how composting is implemented are all examples of the farm’s relationship with energy and matter.
Landscape Design: Designing outdoor spaces is a challenging and rewarding process. We are constantly altering our landscape to expand production, create habitat, diversify our environment, conserve water, and deepen relationships with the natural world. The planting of a food forest, organizing grazing space, or laying out annual growing areas are all applications of landscape design at the farm.
Mapping and Modeling: Mapping, measuring, and translating the physical landscape is an important skill in farming. Thoughtful land management practices are dependent on an in-depth awareness of the natural environment and it’s factors. Mapping is about building a relationship with the land and is a crucial part of planning and execution.
Materials, Tools, and Production: Understanding materials, both man-made and natural, is an important aspect of sustainable design. Proper use and maintenance of tools is crucial to many aspects of farm life . And understanding the critical inputs, process, and timing of production are crucial for success. These ideas span the disciplines of engineering, farming, business, and environmentalism.
Systems Engineering: Simply put, designing systems that work is important. In order to maximize efficiency, to minimize waste, to restore the environment, and to create closed loops of inputs and outputs we must approach our farm systems through the eyes of engineers as well as philosophers.