The goal of the Cambridge Plantations Biomass Energy Project is to create a learning preserve and bioenergy plantation to support long-term outdoor experiential educational activities and a source of renewable, agriculturally produced energy for Cambridge Central School in Cambridge, NY.
The Cambridge Plantations is the name for a proposed outdoor teaching space we are proposing to develop on 6.9 acres of land owned by Cambridge Central School. The purpose of the plantations is to preserve and enhance diverse horticultural collections and natural areas on a plot of land near our school to be used for the enrichment and education of academic and public audiences, and for the support of educational activities. The plantations will also be used as an outdoor classroom for students K-12. This student driven project will include the establishment of a biomass energy plantation, arboretum, wetland access, gardens, walking tails, and wildlife habitat. The bioenergy portion of our proposed project is going to support the growth of shrub willow, which will be sustainably harvested to supply biomass for a renewable energy heating system to be used to heat our school’s bus garage.
Because we are a small rural school that house students K-12 in one building. we have limited financial resources which requires us to seek help in funding this project. We have partnered with the Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Department of Environmental Conservation to help us design a comprehensive site plan. Initial site surveying began in the fall of 2015, and plans for laying out the initial walking tail will commence in the spring of 2016. Also, the initial planting of our first shrub willow plot is planned for the spring of 2016.
The Cambridge Plantations Biomass Project is designed to give both students and teachers the opportunity to experience outdoor education right next to the school. It will offer many opportunities to expand the classroom curriculum to the outdoors and to provide hands-on experiential learning in science. The plantations will also be an important resource for our community to use as well, especially its trail system and arboretum. The bioenergy plantation will also act as a demonstration project to show local farmers and other interested parties the benefits of using agriculturally based energy systems.