Restoring a healthy relationship between nature, place, and community.

The intent of the Place Petal is to realign how people understand and relate to the natural environment that sustains us. The built environment must reconnect with the ecology of place and the unique characteristics found in ever community so that story can be honored, protected and enhanced.

– From the Living Building Challenge Standard

We are inspired by:

  • The rich history of people learning from and living in relationship with the land, including the ancestral Cherokee, early settlers, and modern farmers.
  • The tenants of place-based education, which we practice and teach at our original campus.
  • The values of conservation we practice from our campus inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • The traditions, stories, food, and neighborliness found in Appalachian culture.

Our approach:

Place-based education is at the core of who we are – and has been for decades. We plan to continue and grow this work on our second campus, helping new audiences develop their connections to nature. As we design and build our campus, we will constantly consider the history and culture of our region, as well as our impact on natural habitats and systems. As we grow food and manage the land, we will do so with the lens of conservation.

  • Early in our process, we completed a biodiversity index and a tree survey to know what plants and animals already live on our land. This has informed the placement of our buildings and roads so we can best protect wild and ecologically significant places.
  • Our land-use plan encourages the protection of native plants and embraces sustainable agriculture. Some food production is already underway.
  • We have conducted controlled burns to help native grasses return to our meadow and flourish.
  • We are embracing our backcountry, developing trails and a campsite for visitors to immerse themselves in the woods.
  • Grouping buildings and roads to limit site construction, keeping most of our 194 acres untouched during the building phase.
  • Placing the majority of our land under a conservation easement to permanently protect the property from future development.

Explore the Living Building Challenge imperatives with our teacher naturalists. Select a topic below to learn more.

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