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Root down: Revaluing the Western Canadian Prairie landscape through collective community transformation

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RCX)T DOWN:
REVALUING THE WESTERN CANADIAN PRAIRIE LANDSCAPE
THROUGH COLLECTIVE COMMUNIIfYTRANSFORMATION
by
Brad Garth Pickard
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of Master of Architecture
at
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
December 2009
© Copyright by Brad Garth Pickard, 2009
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DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY
SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE
The undersigned hereby certify that they have read a thesis entitled "Root Down: Revaluing
the Western Canadian Prairie Landscape Through Collective Community Transformation" by
Brad Garth Pickard, and recommend it for acceptance to the Faculty of Graduate Studies in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture.
Date:
Richard Kroeker, supervisor
Roger Mullin, advisor
Nathan Pelletier, advisor
Jacques Rousseau, external examiner
DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY
Author:
Brad Garth Pickard
Title:
Root Down: Revaluing the Western Canadian Prairie Landscape
Through Collective Community Transformation
Department:
School of Architecture
Degree:
Master of Architecture
Convocation:
May 2010
Permission is herewith granted to Dalhousie University to circulate and to have copied for
non-commercial purposes, at its discretion, the above title upon the request of individuals or
institutions.
The author reserves other publication rights, and neither the thesis nor extensive extracts from
it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's written permission.
The author attests that permission has been obtained for the use of any copyrighted material
appearing in the thesis (other than brief excerpts requiring only proper acknowledgement in
scholarly writing), and that all such use is clearly acknowledged.
Signature of author
Date:
in
CONTENTS
Abstract
vi
Acknowledgments
vii
Foreword
1
Introduction
2
Landscape of Loss
4
Thesis Question
7
Regional Landscape
8
Past
9
Present
12
Future
14
Local Landscape
16
Township
World's Largest Farm
17
18
Research Farm
21
Shelterbelt Research Centre
24
Town Site
25
Determining Location 1
26
Determining Location 2
Determining Location 3
27
28
Learning from Site
29
Cultural Landscape
30
As Word
31
As Experience
As Metaphor
34
44
IV
Ecological Landscape
Global Ecologies
Climate Change
46
47
48
Peak Oil
50
Desertification
52
Oceanic Dead Zones
54
Local Ecologies
56
Landscape Redemption
60
Natural Systems Agriculture
61
Adding Value to the Agricultural Landscape... 63
Economic Value
63
Ecological Value
69
Cultural Value
72
Landscape Activation
73
Networks and Nodes
74
Landscape Network
76
Granary Nodes
80
Walking the Landscape
98
Conclusion
109
Appendices
110
Building with Community
Building with Local Materials
Building
110
112
114
References
118
?
ABSTRACT
This thesis identifies and addresses the cultural, environmental and economic condition of the Prairie
agricultural landscape. At the core of this work is an
investigation into what it means to read, understand and
value a particular cultural landscape in order to propose
possible alternatives to our contemporary modes of
existence on this land.
The town of Indian Head, Saskatchewan serves as the
site for an exploration into how a farming community
may transition at a time of global environmental concern. Stemming from its rich local history and current
co-operative agricultural research programs, Indian
Head possesses the potential to collectively initiate a
proposal that could reestablish cultural and ecological
value to the surrounding agricultural landscape. Shaped
by the collective wisdom and co-operation of the local
community, this work would be done in hopes that it
may continue to provide a precedent for other Prairie
towns in the region, thus activating change throughout
the Prairies and beyond.
Vl
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Nadine, my inspiration.
My family, for your love and support.
Richard Kroeker, for his words and wisdom.
To those that have contributed to this journey along the way.
Thank you.
VII
FOREWORD
At the heart of this work is a simple search for a way
in which a community can initiate change within the
agricultural landscape of the Prairies.
It speaks of architecture's ability to span many disciplines as we seek the vision to propose new directions
in the way in which we collectively exist on the land,
discovering our obligations to one another and to the
land in which we dwell.
Through the nature of this multi-discipline study I have
come to find allies in artists, soil scientists, writers,
landscape architects, agricultural researchers, ecologiste, economists and many others; all have contributed
greatly to this search to inform and strengthen the possibility of this work.
2
INTRODUCTION
When we came across the continent cutting
the forests and plowing the prairies, we
have never known what we were doing
because we have never known what we
were undoing. We cannot know what we
are doing until we know what nature would
be doing if we were doing nothing.
- Wendell Berry, Kentucky farmer and writer
(Berry 1996, 100)
Tee-pee rings
Grasslands National Park
Saskatchewan, Canada
Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger
concentrations of economic power and
exerting ever greater violence against the
environment, do not represent progress:
they are a denial of wisdom. Wisdom
demands a new orientation of science and
technology towards the organic, the gentle,
the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful.
- Ernest Friedrich Schumacher, economist
and writer (Schumacher 1973, 33)
Precision agriculture
Indian Head Research Farm
Saskatchewan, Canada
4
Landscape of Loss
The contemporary Western Canadian Prairies are a
product of the industrial age. For just over a century
this industrialized landscape has been considerably
reshaped by a history of loss. Appropriated, surveyed,
turned, and stripped; the Prairies have been considered
to be one of the most extensively altered biomes on the
planet (Gayton 1990, 25).
One must remember that the great achievement of
converting this landscape to agriculture followed the
subordination of First Nations nomadic life, rapid whole-
sale expropriation of land, and complete alteration of the
ecological systems, all of which significantly changed
the way in which we experience and value the Prairie
landscape today.
At present, the Prairies are home to many of the largest
industrial scale agricultural operations in the world, a
declining rural population, and an agricultural system
that defines its success on ever-increasing production
assisted by a heavy dependence on fossil fuels and
discount economics. Here, the land is governed solely
Tee-pee rings
Grasslands National Park
Saskatchewan, Canada
by the value of short-term economic return with far
reaching consequences that affect both the local and
global scales of community and ecology. The challenge
for rural communities on the Prairies will be to expand
this current value system to reflect changing attitudes
brought about by a global and local shift away from
intensive fossil fuel dependency.
A number of attempts have been made to redefine the
role of rural communities on the Prairies, and certainly
sustainability and ecology have been important to this
redefinition (See: Appendices). However, what is often
excluded from a number of these redevelopment strate-
gies is a significant approach that seeks to reaffirm the
community's collective sense of the land.
This thesis addresses the problems currently faced by
such agricultural communities in hopes of exploring
the potentials for a long-term community strategy that
seeks new ways of valuing the prairie landscape in
cultural, ecological and economic terms. The work is
very much a study of place in terms of its relationship
to landscape and is an expression of a revaluation of
landscape in the form of community partnerships and
building intervention.
Precision agriculture
Indian Head Research Farm
Saskatchewan, Canada
The town of Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada is
well situated to become an initiator for this work given
its important role in the historical development of the
Canadian West. Once the site of the 'World's Largest
Corporate Grain Farm', it is now a community largely
committed to agricultural research, playing a key role in
the evolution of land-management practices throughout
the Prairies, defining the contemporary agrarian landscape condition we experience today.
It is here where this thesis begins to explore issues of
site, landscape and community. The work seeks to
provide a solution that enables the surrounding agricultural infrastructure of the town to accommodate
an interdisciplinary program of alternative agricultural
research and public education as a means to reestablish
a collective sense of place. By drawing analogies to its
history with respect to scale, industry and landscape
intervention, the objective is to redeem the community's
relationship with the land.
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Photomontage
Romanticizing the Prairie landscape condition
-*"«# , ¦!*
Thesis Question
How can the town of Indian Head activate new ways
of valuing the Western Canadian Prairie landscape,
in hopes that it may sustain local community, culture,
ecology, while simultaneously contributing to global
sustainability?
REGIONAL LANDSCAPE
A love for this region does not come easy;
it has been my test case for a larger bond
to landscape in general.
- Don Gayton, range manager and writer
(Gayton 1990, 7)
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I- Location of Indian Head,
' Saskatchewan, Canada
Disputed geography
50 Versions of the Great Plains Boundary
(Image: Rossum and Lavin 2000, 546)
Past
The Canadian Prairie is a bioregion that roughly runs
from Brandon, Manitoba to Edmonton, Alberta down
along the foot of the Rocky Mountains to border along
the 49th Parallel. Part of the larger geographic region of
the Great Plains, this land was once the home of many
nomadic indigenous cultures, each with its own unique
histories and customs. Remarkably, much of this region
was once declared unfit for European habitation in 1 860
by the explorer Captain John Palliser (Gayton 1 990, 22).
Mixed Prairie
l Fescue Praire
? Mixed Arid Prairie
? Tall Grass Prairie
Palliser Triangle
• " V«'
'Mt
grasslands
post glaciation
Assiniboine
I Plains Cree
I Sarcee
¦ Blackfoot
Grassland
Aspen Parkland
indigenous cultures
dominion grid
¦ ¦'*
+.
conservation areas
Geographic morphology
Mapping Saskatchewan's territory
*h
reservations
10
Nonetheless, the subsequent invasion of Europeans
marked a significant shift in the way in which the land
was perceived and valued, all the while subordinating
a traditional way of life and culture of the First Nations
peoples.
The land treaties from 1 870 onward radically reshaped
the land, creating the necessary conditions for Western
colonization, settlement, and industrialization through
the displacement of First Nations peoples' open lands
with a record breaking 200 million acre survey system
(Enns 2006, 158). The open grassland was divided into
thousands of townships, each containing 36 one-mile
by one-mile sections of land divided into quarters to
BOMU^IOM^LAHpSURVEVS MF^
host the influx of immigrants that would begin to occupy
this land. Following the great survey, the West began
to hold commercial value with an estimated capacity
to accommodate 1.25 million homesteads on quarter-
section plots (Enns 2006, 1 58).
Given the commercial prospect of land appropriation,
speculators that came to this land valued the landscape
_
B Location of Indian Head
Saskatchewan, Canada
Dominion land survey 1881
strictly in terms of its economic potential. Conse- (|mage. Ubrary and Arch¡ves Qanaúa¡
quently, ecological and conservational concerns were 1882)
not entertained by these early investors. For example,
an estimated fifty million bison that once roamed free
were willfully sacrificed to accommodate the settlement
of the North American Prairie. Their survival would have
surely meant the complete rewriting of the way in which
we experience the land today (Gayton 1990, 100).
Land requisition
Before European settlers cultivated the immense swaths Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
image: Rennebohm, 2008)
of annual monocultures, mixtures of perennial vegeta- (above
(below image: PFRA, 1910)
11
tion dominated nearly all of the North American landscape, as they still do in uncultivated areas today. The
region's mixed grassland was highly productive year
after year, even as it built and maintained soil. These
natural systems required no fertilizers, pesticides or
herbicides to thrive while fending off pests and disease
and were wholly managed by nomadic grazers (Glover
2007, 83). Water that ran off or through the prairie soils
was clear, and wildlife was abundant.
In contrast, the present soil supports a system of imported annual grain crops, such as wheat, barley, oats,
and rye; all of which require an ever-increasing amount
of fossil fuels to remain productive (Picone and Tassel 2002, 99). Since annuals have a relatively shallow
root system and live only until harvest, these landmanagement strategies contribute to global problems
associated with soil erosion, depletion of soil fertility,
water contamination and desertification (Glover 2007,
83). Wes Jackson, founder of The Land Institute - a
non-profit educational research organization devoted
to the study of sustainable alternatives in agriculture maintains that "the problems in agriculture are primarily
è
fcèèé>i
derivatives of the problem of agriculture" (Jackson 1 989,
1091). In essence, Jackson submits, "we live in a fallen
world", in which the nature that produced us "has been
almost totally destroyed or seriously damaged during
the 8,000-10,000 years of agriculture" (Jackson 1989,
1091). In a fraction of this time, agricultural systems
imported from Europe have successfully dismantled the
ecosystems of the New World, decoupled stabilizing
processes and extirpated countless species before their Land inputs
Derivatives of Fossil
function in the ecosystem could be learned.
Fuels
12
Present
Today the prairies account for about 80% of Canada's
farmland and have a reputation for being the breadbas-
ket for the world, exporting on average about 20% of
the total volume of wheat traded on the international
market (Natural Resources Canada, 1 996). For over 1 00
years, industrial agriculture production on the prairies
continues to owe much of its success on the relatively
inexpensive resource of fossil fuels to become the
powerhouse of grain production that it is known today
(Pimentel 2004. 365).
However, this energy intensive agricultural system has
also been implicated in a broad range of ecological im-
pacts, including water pollution, soil erosion, pesticide
toxicity, and pest resilience (Pelletier et al 2008, 988).
BARLEYI
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Beaded precision agriculture GIS data collection points
Data points represent georeferenced crop information
GPS systems used for navigation and crop data analysis
13
Add to that the present and future constraints on fossil
fuel availability, the global scale environmental impacts
of fossil fuel energy extraction and consumption and
Average Farm Size 1 936
Saskatchewan, Canada
it's consequences: climate change, acid precipitation,
Average Farm Size 2001
Saskatchewan, Canada
ozone depletion. Through the lens of ecology there
is no question that our present system of energy intensive agriculture will inevitably need a considerable
renovation if we are to meet the growing demands of
the estimated 3.7 billion malnourished people currently
living in the world, without compromising the ecological
integrity of our agroecosystems and global ecosystems
as a whole (Pelletier et al 2008, 999).
1916
1996
Number of farms - Average farm size
Saskatchewan, Canada
Concurrently, agricultural communities are also chang- (Thraves 2007, 347)
ing dramatically. Many communities on the Prairies
are shrinking or disappearing altogether. The town of
Indian Head's population has been in a steady decline
for a number of decades, losing over 320 people since
1 991 , falling to a total population of 1 990 people in 2006
(Statistics Canada, 2006).
1945
Much of the reason for this shift is a growing average
1
Labour inputs
From 1916 to 1996, farms In production using mechanization
(Pimentel 2004, 366)
have more than tripled in size and their total numbers
farm size on the prairies.
have decrease by a third (Thraves 2007, 347). The everincreasing scale of agricultural operations has been a
contributing factor for this change. As global demand
for cereal grain drives an intensification of land use,
agribusiness consolidation out-competes smaller family
operations in global markets.
1916
2006
Town population
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
(Statistics Canada, 2006)
Agricultural geographic condition
Timeline profiles
Farm size - labour - population
14
Future
ANNUAL
COMMON
WHEAT
Trfticum aestivum L.
PERENNIAL
INTERMEDIATE
WHEATGRASS
Thmopyrum intermedium L.
In cultural and ecological terms a contemporary reading
of our present-day agricultural model puts into question our current value systems with respect to the local
Qjg
landscapes, ultimately bringing into question our current operations on this land. Alteration and adaptation
of this system can now be seen as necessary steps to
stimulate a reestablishment of cultural and ecological
values as a foundation for the successful activation of
a truly sustainable agricultural community.
Communities on the Prairies are quickly eroding as fast
as the quality of its chemically dependent soil. Here the
analogy between the health of the soil and the health of
a community is appropriate. If we cannot appreciate the
value of healthy soil, then we may be hopeless in our
efforts to appreciate the value of a healthy community.
Clearly, the current direction of big business agriculture,
together with an increasing reliance on fossil fuel and
its chemical derivatives, have continued to degrade
the communities sense of collective ownership on the
land.
For rural communities like Indian Head to move forward
it is imperative that one be critical of the past and present in order to move toward a sustainable goal. This
work proposes a cultural and ecological shift in the
present agricultural system as a type of mechanism to
sustain rural cultures and landscapes; a mechanism that
references natural processes and systems as a means
of sustaining community and landscape indefinitely.
Corresponding root structure
Annual vs. perennial cultivars
(Glover 2007, 84)
15
learning \
centrecultural centre
park
temporal
experiences
Indian Head continues as a leader in
^ rural development
-—
perennial crop system
/
\
soil organic carbon (SOC) new land management
landcurrency
al carbon,^--— sequestration
strategiesrelocalization
\
and
self reliance
\
carbon credit system
land reconciliation
land artists
„,„¿urism
\ ^
\
well being
\
___ reconciliation of history
land cooperative for
walking trails
transition community
carbon sequestration
\
\
walking
a study of place
experience the landscape
re-scaling the landscape ^ cultural research centre for sustainability
Indian Head becomes a leader of prairie farm research
and development
shift 3
+
IHARF community farm
national heritage
research
PFRA shelterbelt
centre
site
precision farming
national and
provincial parks
ecological
collapse
Saskatchewan wildlife
federation
place of progressive
research
\
soil degradation
natural corridor
protection
natural ecosystems
management
intensive farming
practices
summer fallowing
riel rebellion
based on feudal system
dominion research farm
bell farm
shift 2
dominion land survey
land speculation
\
open land
disappears
____ treaties
life style shifts
naming indian head region:
exclusion and suppression
livelihood transition
trappers
traders
mass epidemics
\
small pox
european invasion
introduction of horse:
'larger tee-pee ring size
camp on hills
/
assiniboine nation
/
sma". top
PoxofePidemic
hill
. tee-pee ring size:
smaller nomadic - by foot
nakota Sioux ¦
aboriginal history
grassland regions
post-glaciation:
geographic region of prairies
Story of the Land
Tracing the history and projecting the future of Indian Head
shift 1
16
LOCAL LANDSCAPE
Owned by an English Syndicate and
45,000 Acres Under Cultivation - A Land of
Immense Farms - Land Sold for a Song.
- New York Times article, published
November 27th, 1898 ("World's Largest
Farm", 1898)
m$WI? IÄSMÄBM
Sb«StarJjorfcSanes
INDIAN HEAD
Cultural convergence at Indian Head
Indian Head station, 1883
(Image: Rennebohm, 2008)
17
Township
A 6 mile by 6 mile township encompasses the community of Indian Head and provides the test site for a
proposal that seeks to reestablish the town's relationship with the surrounding landscape. A large-scale
adaptive design strategy is drawn from the town's influential history as a site that once facilitated the complete
World's Largest
Farm
transformation of the Prairie landscape. This strategy
stems from a reading and analysis of contemporary
issues within and beyond the fences of a square town-
ship. The township area has been compartmentalized
into four zones, each with its own unique historical and
contextual characteristics.
Shelterbeit Research
Centre
Township site plan
Encompasses all four zones
World's Largest Farm
Before the town of Indian Head was situated, the land
was initially turned from open grassland to a large industrial farm of international notoriety called the Bell Farm.
This farm came to mark the frontline of sod breaking of
the Western Canadian Prairie prior to the coming railway
(Barrett 1984, 60). Described in The New York Times
on November 27th 1 898 as "The World's Largest Farm",
the Bell Farm was considered "the largest connected
block of land devoted to the raising of wheat to be
found on the globe" ("World's Largest Farm" 1898). At
1 00 miles square, the Bell Farm was over four times the
area of Manhattan Island (See: Land area comparison,
following page). It was largely considered an experiment
¦?
19
supported by the federal government and established
at the same time as the Dominion Land Survey System
when it reached the area in 1882 (Barrett 1984, 60). In
many respects, the story of the Bell Farm is a parable
for the extensive sod busting that would continue across
the Canadian West.
Since it broke ground in 1882, the scale of the Bell
Farm operation was unprecedented. One year later
with the help of 83 men and over 160 horses and oxen
the operation broke nearly 6000 acres, roughly the size
of the Halifax Peninsula at 24 km2 (Barrett 1984, 61).
The enormous scale of such an undertaking converted
huge expanses of grassland to agricultural land and
set a precedent for further sod turning for the rest of
the wide-open Western Canadian Prairies. In less than
LARCrESMABI
Sl)fyetoJJork©mes
two decades the operation was instrumental in the
development of the town of Indian Head, and had built
multiple grain elevators and a mill to store and process
the imported annual cultivars that were rapidly adapting and spreading across the Prairies. Despite many
productive years the Bell Farm Company eventually
became unprofitable, went into liquidation, and the land
was seized and sold to outside buyers. As a business
venture the Bell Farm proved to be a failure, yet since
it's inception it has provided Indian Head international
attention and initiated the establishment of the Domin-
ion Experimental Farm.
Land Area Comparison
Historic Bell Farm
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
The Bell Farm provides a local precedent for pioneering
the extensive alteration of the indigenous Prairie land-
scape. The story of the Bell Farm offers an analogy for
this thesis; a proposal to activate a shift in our present
agricultural system. Implemented locally, this proposal
would provide a example for continued development
across the Prairies, metaphorically returning us to a
perennial landscape experienced before the Bell Farm
broke ground.
Research Farm
Growing out of the failure of the Bell Farm was a desire to adapt farming practices to the specificity of the
Prairie conditions. The Federal Government established
Indian Head as a location for one of the first Dominion
experimental farms as part of the Experimental Farm
Act of 1886 (Barrett, 1984, 42). The establishment of
this farm led to innovations of crop management and
the development of certain strains of crops that could
withstand the extreme climatic conditions of the Western Canadian Prairie.
Through the years the Experimental Farm has taken on
a research approach to crop testing and is now named
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22
the Indian Head Research Farm (IHRF). It also serves as high
a satellite location for the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural
min
Research Centre (SPARC). As part of a larger body of
research, much of the work being done at the research
farm is of interest to this thesis:
soil organic carbon gain
conversion to perennial cropping system ~
(kg/1 00m2/year)
- Conducting studies on climate change and how it
affects Canadian Prairie agriculture.
- Conducting research in sustainable practices for ce-
soil organic carbon potential
(%)
real, oilseed, pulse and green manure production.
- Developing best management practices for specialty
and alternative crops.
below ground biomass
(t/ha)
Currently, the Indian Head Research Farm is exploring
the potentials of GIS Precision Agriculture on site. Afield
above ground biomass
(t/ha)
located north-east of the town of Indian Head provides
the test ground for future research for its application.
This thesis realizes the great potential of this technology
yield mass dry weight
(t/ha)
to map and interpret the subtle micro-ecology of site.
Precision agriculture is widely used by many agricultural
slope analysis
producers in the area to optimize inputs for enhanced
crop production of a monoculture system. It is generally used in determining and applying locally adjusted
contours
(m. above sea level)
inputs (ie. fertilizer application), with the assistance of
GIS (Global Information Systems) technology (Vrindts
et al. 2002, 1 41 ). This technology provides a set of georeferenced crop data, and allows the user to determine
field variability as a means of adjusting inputs to locally
optimized values (Vrindts et al. 2002, 141). These sys-
terns allow for a complex reading of subtleties of the ,ndian Head Research Farm
landscape, including soil parameters, topography, crop Precision agriculture fields
(GIS data courtesy of IHRF)
23
yield; all of which greatly affect crop growth and farm h¡ghy¡eld
management strategies.
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By analyzing the crop data from the Indian Head
Research Farm one can begin to interpret the subtle
variations in the data visualizations as a mapping of the
underlying structures of the natural ecology of the site.
Through reading the natural structures of the landscape
one can begin to interpret this data as a generator for
a potential alternative polyculture cropping system.
Under the current monocrop system, a reading of the
variations in the soil structures equates to increases or
decreases in fertilizer inputs - whereas in a polyculture
system, these variations could potentially influence a
new type of planting plan based on the natural spatial
variations of the land. One can imagine a larger scale
application of this system and the potential benefit for
a collective mapping of this crop data in order to appreciate the local agro-ecology at the landscape scale.
This could be supported by a collection of adjacent
landowner's precision agriculture GIS data.
Indian Head Research Farm
Precision agriculture fields
(GIS data courtesy of IHRF)
The potential application for analyzing the agroecology Image depicts geospatial crop yield data.
At the landscape scale one can begin to
will be helpful in developing a future strategy for fur-
determine the subtle variations in the soil
structure that currently has no relationship
ther research and adaptive landscape proposal for the to the overall formal qualities of the
community. Given its current research potentials, the monocrop annual planting plan.
Indian Head Research Farm provides an ideal location These test fields are currently the site of
research for large scale precision
for the development of alternative agricultural practices ongoing
agriculture input management systems for
on the Prairies.
a number of different crops.
It provides a potential site for the proposed
program to introduce natural systems
agriculture research to the community,
as an alternative to the current research
being done on site.
Shelterbelt Research Centre
Out of the Experimental Farm grew the Prairie Farm
Rehabilitation Administration Centre (PFRA). Developed
under the jurisdiction of the Experimental Farm it was
initiated in 1901 as a co-operative program to assist
homesteaders and landowners with the planting of
shelterbelts in order to provide rehabilitation of drought
and soil drifting in areas that were devastated during the
drought of the 1 930s (PFRA Strategic Direction 2008, 4).
Since this time, the PFRA has played an important role
in changing the architecture of the prairie agricultural
landscape, as many of the shelterbelts seen across
the Canadian West were provided as seedlings by the
Indian Head PFRA nursery.
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Town Site
The town's name, Indian Head, ¡s a reminder of how
successful the Europeans were in appropriating this
land and reveals the circumstance of how this land has
come to be. According to the local history, the most
likely story begins with an account of the 1 837 smallpox
epidemic brought on by contact with European trappers
and tradesmen. The epidemic swept through a party
of Assiniboine peoples who were camped near the
present day town site. Given their traditional custom,
members of the band climbed to the highest point of
land to die. This point came to be known as the Skull
Mountainettes and later to be named by Palliser, the
Indian Head Hills (Barrett 1984, 22).
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As with its name, the description of the location for Indian Head reveals a certain record of events and reflects
how one may perceive the historical context of a place
relative to the land in which it resides.
Determining Location 1
Situated on the black Borolls soil, the current town site
sits just south of the Qu'Appelle valley, a location long
known as a place where First Nations people have
resided for millennia and where many archeological
remains have been uncovered proving this fact.
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Archeological sites located near Indian Head
Information courtesy of Heritage Resources Branch Saskatchewan Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport
27
Determining Location 2
Since the advent of the Dominion Land Survey System
the town's location was to be derived from a series of
grids placed on the land. The Dominion Grid has since
come to define many of the formal characteristics of the
Prairie landscape that we experience today from the air
and from the ground. The town's blocks are curiously
oriented on a 45° angle, and completely contained
scale: 1 :3,000,000
within section 24 in township 1 8 range 1 3, West of the Settlement location:
second meridian. This calculated system of dividing the
land is described by cultural geographer J. B. Jackson
as an "ingenious, if unimaginative, way of creating a
landscape" (J. B. Jackson 1994, 4). He continues to
suggest that the "grid system was never meant to be
a way of laying out cities and regions, never meant to
produce close-knit communities: those were for the
scale: 1 :300,000
settlers to create" (J. B. Jackson 1 994, 4). The purpose Settlement location:
of this formal organization was only to facilitate the
Section 24 in Township 18-13-W2
rapid settlement of the land, but it has since effectively
altered the very nature of how one may experience and
navigate the landscape.
scale: 1 :30,000
Indian Head settlement hierarchy
Township 18-13-W2 (9800m ? 9800m)
Section 24 (1 600m ? 1 600m)
Quarter Sections A-D (800m ? 800m)
28
Determining Location 3
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have further abstracted the notion of location and place by representing Indian Head as a single point on the earth's
surface with the geo-coordinates of 50.525 N, -1 03.65
W. With such absolute precision, utilized by precision
agriculture practices today, current GPS technology is
allowing agricultural producers the ability to automate
machinery, analyze field variability and collect infinite
crop data to map and interpret the land with extraordinary accuracy and subtlety never before seen. Its
development to increase productivity also reflects a
change in cultural attitude toward the local landscape.
Particularly demonstrating how many local community
members currently perceive this landscape, no longer
as a series of massive grids placed upon the land, but
now as series of georeferenced datasets.
Detail of Town Site - GPS walking map
Experience recorded with GPS navigator
Topographical contour interpolated from
georecording walk
Learning from Site
Site 1
World's Largest Farm
Provides the history. Historically, the farm was operated by a large consortium of people with an intention
to reorganize the land for the betterment of society.
This history provides a local precedent for a cooperative community agricultural institute that focuses on
alternative local agricultural research in order to sustain
the community, with the intent of providing an example
World's Largest
Farm
to other communities on the Prairies to follow.
Site 2 and 3
Research Farm
Shelterbelt Research Centre
Both provide a possible outlook for the future, presenting answers for how the community can sustain itself
through research and cultural development. The land
management proposal for the town is drawn from cur-
iâ&SSU
rent research and developments in natural systems
agriculture. As such, a comprehensive ecological design strategy can be proposed as an extension of these
two institutions. The intent of this strategy is to project
these institutional functions as contributing leaders in
a story of how the town of Indian Head can become a
local model for global responsibility.
Site 4
Shelterbelt Research
Centre
Town Site
The town itself provides the present day community,
embodying all of the current issues that effect rural
agricultural communities on the Prairies today. The
project proposes a shift to an alternative local scale
agricultural system that is driven by the community's
dedicated interest in sustaining its own future.
?^??
30
CULTURAL LANDSCAPE
Landscape: a composition of man-made
or man-modified spaces to serve as
infrastructure or background for our
collective existence; and if background
seems inappropriately modest we should
remember that in our modern use of the
word it means that which underscores not
only our identity and presence, but also
our history.
- John Brinckerhoff Jackson, cultural
geographer (J. B. Jackson 1 984, 8)
Recording indigenous Prairie
Georeference photo by way of walking
Grasslands National Park, Sask, Canada
31
As Word
Landskip, Landschaft or A New Definition
In the opening pages of Discovering the Vernacular
Landscape cultural geographer J. B. Jackson attempts
to uncover a new definition for the word "landscape".
His attempt discovers that the contemporary meaning
"in most dictionaries is more than three hundred years Claude Gellée, dit Le Lorrain
Landscape with Psyche Saved from
old and was drawn up for artists" (J. B. Jackson 1 984, Drowning (? 666)
3). Jackson follows this to present the contemporary picturesque landscape principles directly
definition of landscape as a "portion of land which the referenced landscape artists such as
Claude Lorrain,
eye can comprehend at a glance" (J. B. Jackson 1 984, (|mage: Rogger 2007, 161)
3). This association of image and landscape is not accidental, but has permeated the Western perception of
landscape since the Romantic Movement.
James Corner traces this relationship between landscape and image to the Old English term landskip which
"at first referred not to land but to a picture of it, as in the
later, selectively framed representations of seventeenthcentury Dutch landschap paintings" (Corner 1 999, 1 53).
Following from this term the contemporary definition
also attests to a culture that continues to idealize
the visual aspect of nature, primarily concerned with
the aesthetics of a scenic vista, while simultaneously
oversimplifying the multi-layered complexity associated Humphry Repton: Landscape Proposal
with the natural and cultural processes in landscape. for Mosely Hall, Staffordshire, UK
For Corner this tendency to oversimplify and prioritize Landscape Design Proposal perpetuated
a series of watercolour paintings,
visual and formal qualities alone significantly limits the through
based on picturesque principles.
full eidetic scope of landscape creativity (Corner 1 999, Status quo View (above)
153).
Ideal View (below)
(Image: Rogger, 2007)
32
From a deeper appreciation of the term landskip one
may begin to recognize the role that aesthetics has had
in ultimately developing our perception of an idealized
nature. Along the way we have somehow divorced ourselves from the very workings of the natural landscape
to pictorialize and compartmentalize nature, as is evident in the National Parks and Ecological Movements,
both grandchildren of Romanticism and Picturesque
ideology (Cronon 1996, 72).
American sublime
The work of this thesis is to propose an alternative way Thomas Co|e> Scene fmm Last Qf the
of valuing the landscape, one that is closer to the Old Mohicans (1826)
German term landschaft, a term that precedes landskip, Romanticized North American landscape
referring:
as depicted by members of the Hudson
River School
(Image: Thomas Cole, 2009)
not to scenery but to the environment of working
community, a setting comprising dwellings, pastures,
meadows, and fields, and surrounded by unimproved
forest or meadow. Moreover, - like the Anglo-Saxon
tithing and the Old French vili, the word meant more
than an organization of space: it connoted too the
inhabitants of the place and their obligations to one
another and to the land. (Corner 1999, 154)
Reflecting on the term landschaft helps to put into per-
spective how societies value their land. Driving through Compartmentalized Nature
Grasslands National Park
the vast chemically dependent fields of the Western Saskatchewan Canada
Canadian Prairie, one struggles to extend this definition
An evolution of Romanticism and
to this landscape, implying a cultural undervaluation of Picturesque ideology, Canada's National
Parks systems have reinforced the
this land. This thesis is an attempt to search for alterna- common misconception that we must
tive ways of living sustainably with this landscape, by live as something apart from nature. In
this way compartmentalization of nature
which we may find the ability to add cultural value and is preferred over synthesis of natural
an obligation for stewardship of the land.
systems.
This misconception leads to an
undervaluation of the lands in which we
dwell, and begins to disassociate our
common relationship with nature.
33
HUMAN ENVIRONMENTS SYNTHESIZE WITH NATURAL SYSTEMS
Shifting Away from Static Scenic and Sentimental Conceptions of Nature
ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS DEFINES BEAUTY
Ecology= Beauty
ECOLOGICAL MOVEMENT
"Ecological Enlightenment1
A0* Wood
,jg^os Corner
LANDSCAPE URBANISMI
ÍSW5"1 Ouliimn
mOtto
ECO-ARCHITECTURE
Rjrjharri I nng
pr rift Maria
LANDART
ENVIRONMENTAUSM
US PARKS MOVEMENT
^gyjengk Law Olmsted
MORALISTIC ASSOCIATION TO NATURE
Hudson River Borioni - Thomas Cole
J1801-1Ö4Ü)
NORTH AMERICAN LANDSCAPE PAINTING
ROMANTICISM: AMERICAN SUBLIME
NORTH AMERICAN FRONTIER
HjffWJfSy Rftpton
PICTURESQUE
Paynfi Knight
SUBLIME & BEAUTIFUL
Edmund Burke
(1729- 17971
!„pflc^gt 'Capability' Brown
BEAU
jia^HogarttL
ENGLISH ENLIGHTENMENT
BAROQUE LANDSCAPE PAINTING
Development of Western cultural values to landscape
Within the context of Philosophy, Art, and Architecture
'??1
34
As Experience
Walking the Land - Recording the Cultural Landscape
Through the simple act of walking I have attempted to
expose the narrative of a particular place. Experience,
collection, and recording this study provided the necessary groundwork for a deeper understanding of what
makes a place culturally significant.
GPS drawing device
This work has been inspired by the works of walking Georeferencing experience of place
artist Hamish Fulton and the land art of Richard Long.
Having had the chance to meet Fulton and participate
in a number of group walks with the artist, I have since
begun to realize the cultural importance of the physi-
cal act of walking the land, and how it relates to our
perceptions and reading of landscape.
This approach to studying the Prairie landscape was
initially strengthened by a juxtaposition of experience
through the walking of the romantic English countryside
near Canterbury, UK around a village situated along
the Canterbury trail made famous by Geoffrey Chaucer
in the 14th century. It is here where the landscape is
revered. It remains as such today through the frequent
use of the extensive footpath systems maintained
throughou the UK by the National Trust. The lasting
maintenance of these trails provides access to the cultural landscape regardless of private property, allowing
individuals the experience to engage with the natural
and synthetic processes of the agrarian landscape.
The method of study was to walk and record the experience, much like the 1 8th century English tourists would Richard Long
have studied the romantic English
Global Walkin9
a Line24)in Peru <1 972>
a countryside.
'
(Long 1979,
35
Positioning System (GPS) technology (a technology
extensively used today by both trekkers of the English
footpath system and large-scale farm operations on the
Prairies) was incorporated to assist and record the trek.
The GPS information streaming from satellites recorded
the spatial sequence of events and marked points of
interest along the way.
The same method of study was conducted in Sas-
m
katchewan, where walking the landscape provided a
contrasting experience. The fond attachment to the
romantic, historically layered landscape of England
was substituted with a sublime sense of space and
the experience of industrial-scale food production, a
dwindling yet engaging community, and few glimpses
Geo-recording cultural landscape
into the ancient landscape long since plowed under Detail of drawing, scale 1:30,000
the soil
Chilham, Kent, UK
For the purpose of this initial study a town was selected
for each region:
Chilham, Kent, UK
Latitude N 51.25° Longitude E 0.975°
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
Latitude N 50.525° Longitude W 103.65°
Having had the opportunity to contrast these two walking
experiences allowed for a strengthened understanding of
the way in which we culturally value the Prairie landscape.
These contrasting experiences allow for a contextual
reading of the land in terms of how and what it means Geo-recording cultural landscape
Detail of drawing, scale 1 :30,000
to live embedded within a particular landscape.
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
36
Each drawing represents a cultural point of interestAll are given geospatial coordinates and is marked on the
cooresponding walking site plan.
Each photograph is taken at a particular cultural point of interest.
All are given geospatial coordinates and is marked on the
cooresponding walking site plan.
Detail of walking site plan showing village centre and radiating
public footpath network.
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37
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Each drawing represents a cultural point of interest.
AN are given geospatial coordinates and is marked on the
cooresponding walking site plan.
Each photograph is taken at a particular cultural point of interest.
Ail are given geospatial coordinates and is marked on the
cooresponding walking site plan.
Detail of walking site plan showing grain elevator locations in town
and walk toward Indian Head Research Farm.
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38
Following this work and recent studies into the origins of *
H»
the Prairie landscape, I have carried out a third walking
study situated in Grasslands National Park, Saskatch-
ewan, Canada. Grasslands National Park is the only
wildlife reserve specific to the conservation of native
prairie landscape. It is here where one can experience
glimpses of a history that came before the extensive
land assimilation that occurred throughout the prairies.
While walking around a series of stone tee-pee rings
left by First Nations people hundreds of years ago
one is reminded of the richness of history and attachment to the land. One may consider this a traditional
landscape, or a relic of the past, but it remains today
a highly productive natural ecosystem that builds and
maintains it's soil, requiring no fertilizers, pesticides or Geo-recording cultural landscape
herbicides to thrive.
Detail of drawing, scale 1 :30,000
Grasslands National Park
Saskatchewan, Canada
Through the experience of walking these three distinct
landscapes, conclusions can be drawn as to how we
currently value the agrarian Prairie landscape.
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Chilham,
?, Kent, UK
Longitude: 0.9750E
Latitude: 51 .250N
The experience in Kent reveals the historical layers and fabric
that makes up the place. Formally, the organic qualities of the
field structure reflect an evolutionary process of inhabiting the
land and the multiple layers of human engagement with the
land. The ability to wander through the agrarian landscape
along a series of footpaths in and around these production
fields, allows all individuals the opportunity to participate
intimately with landscape, providing a greater sense of
connection and obligation to the land.
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Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Longitude: 108.400W
Latitude: 54.150N
The experience in Grasslands National Park differs greatly
from the other two experiences, yet may act as a cultural
bridge between each. The field structures formally reveal the
organic qualities of a productive natural ecosystem as well
as the experience as one moves through such a vast open
landscape, restricted only by geological and natural obstacles.
Although currently uninhabited by humans, its long history is
subtly revealed through a sequence of events as one meanders
across the land. The history here spans several thousand years
and is legibly read through tracings of glacial movement and
archaeological remains of human civilization, and is carried
forward into the present through the succession of indigenous
perennial grasses. Here the layers of history are subtle yet
remain to be experienced by those that seek them.
?
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
Longitude: 103.650W
Latitude: 50.5250N
Walking the landscape in and around the town of Indian Head
the restriction of movement largely provides a linear experience.
It becomes nearly impossible to appreciate the landscape on
an intimate level as one is restricted to public space along a
series of grid roads. The rigidity of the formal system of grids,
and subsequent vast monocrop field patterns, provides a sense
of erasure of histories and a total renovation of the landscape
occurring not long ago. Opportunities arise when examining the
other two landscape studies for indicators on how Indian Head
may come to terms with this current situation and seek new ways
of addressing these issues. This work proposes another layer to
the existing agrarian fabric, onethat considers human engagement
and ecology as a means to add value to the land and culturally
embed the community within the surrounding landscape.
43
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44
As Metaphor
Re-walking the Landscape
By geo-recording the act of walking, the streaming
collection of GPS data leaves a trace of experience.
However remote this recording process is, the remnant
track left on the GPS receiver indicates a certain series
of spatial relationships, which correspond directly to a
particular experience of site. In many ways, the record-
ing of the GPS frames the experience in an architectural
context by referencing spatially the sequence and scale
of a particular landscape experience.
The GPS data collected from walking the countryside
in and around Indian Head has generated a georeferenced topographical model for examining the greater
site. This model is derived directly through experience
and is produced as a matrix of geocoordinates that
mark particular points of interest within the cultural
landscape.
Working site model detail
At some point this accumulation of data has ceased qPq 148 ¡nt of ¡nterest
being simply a recording of experience, and has grown 50.5269470N 1 03.6776890W
tomatrix
become
a metaphor for the landscape itself. The S^^sÌskatchewan, Canada
of geocoordinates generated through the GPS
recording of the experience provides reference points to
generate a topographical model of the site. The matrix
becomes a representation of the fabric of the existing
landscape condition.
Georeferenced photograph
GPSJ 48 point of interest
50.5269470N 103.6776890W
Brassey farm barn
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
45
S Sulfit.
Jplfc
Re-walking the landscape
Working site model generated from walking GPS data
Data points projected onto frame and woven to create a Stringing the georeferenced data points
to create the topographic site model
three dimensional topographic matrix of coordinates
46
ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE
One hundred years ago, the problem of
permanence was simply: "How can farmers
live and prosper on this land?"
Soon was added the dimension of time:
"How can farmers and all the generations
that follow prosper on this land?".
And more recently, we have expanded in
space, moving beyond the boundaries of
"this land": "How can farmers and all the
generations that follow prosper on this land
and not compromise, now or tomorrow, life
beyond its fences?"
Jt
- Henry Janzen, soil scientist (Janzen 2001 ,
498)
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Chemical burndown
Chemical application prior to seeding
Zak Farms, Saskatchewan, Canada
47
Global Ecologies
Local agricultural communities contribute to, and are affected by, a vast range of global issues including climate
change, peak oil, desertification, oceanic dead zones.
Each issue may be analyzed for a number of principal
TmEm
sources but all relate to an local individual farmer's ag-
ricultural land management practice. Through research
H
m
into alternative land management strategies, it may be
possible to reduce many of the global effects that the
conventional intensive agriculture system continues to
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
Series of georeferenced photographs
produce. Implemented collectively with the coopera- Generated from walking GPS data
tion of the Indian Head Research Farm and adjacent (Image: Google Earth 2009)
land owners, such alternatives can begin to bring hope
to help solve a number of the growing environmental
concerns we are currently facing.
The initial step would be to engage the community with
a greater awareness of the global ecological issues
presented by conventional agriculture today. From
here it would be possible to move forward to activate
these alternatives.
48
Climate Change
Land use conversion and fossil fuel combustion have
been the principal sources of increased atmospheric
CO2 since 1850 (LaI 2008, 113A). Conventional intensive agriculture relies heavily on fossil fuel combustion,
contributing greatly to global carbon emissions. Given
the substantial root system of perennial grain, conversion of annual wheat crops to a perennial grain crop-
ping system could provide a net pool for soil carbon
sequestration, buying time for alternatives to fossil fuel
2005
take effect.
Global mean temperature increase (0C)
predicted change In mean surface temperatures
baseline results of DICE-2007 model runs
(Nordhaus, 2008)
Since the 18th century the atmospheric abundance
of CO2 has increased by 36% and has been steadily
annual
winter wheat
perennial Intermediate
wheatgrass
increasing, leading to our current concerns of climate
change (LaI 2008, 1 1 3A). The scale and scope of this
problem is immense, but further research into a perennial grain cropping system has potential to locally increase the soil organic carbon (SOC) pool as a possible
strategy in stabilizing the atmospheric CO2.
Currently, research into a perennial grain cropping
system is still in its infancy but has shown promise in
its ability to sequester CO2, though the future potential
of its application are still uncertain (Glover 2007, 84).
The challenge for this system lies in its potential to
produce higher yields as well as sequester CO2 in order
to compete with our current annual cropping system's
seed production capabilities.
kg CO2 -^^^kg CQ2
total emissions / total sequestered
Annual/perennial emissions/sequestration
49
7-8
6-7
¦¦4-5
H3-4
H1 -2
¡¦-3--1
WORLD MAP:
Global annual temperature scenario
annual temperature change from
1975-95 to 2040-60 ("C)
(Natural Resources Canada)
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
global
local
solution
conventional intensive
carbon sequestration with alternative
agriculture carbon emissions
natural systems agriculture
situation
1
12.6kg
CO
it?tits
Ftotal emissions
4.4kg CO
kg CO2
3.6kg Cuyyear
. total sequestered
I lkg CO2
nitrogen fertilizer NH
5.2kg CO./year
pnosphorus Ten
I kg Clyyear
®
®
nerDicides
Bkg COJyBa
a es
1.12kg COJyear
nsecticides
1.76kg COJyear
CO2
production per 100m2/ year of intensive annual monoculture
Calculations based on regional average Carbon kg inputs per 1 0Om2
CO sequestration per 100m2/ year natural systems agriculture
C-based Input carbon kg (LaI, 2004)
to increase-perennial
!McConkey, 2009)
Average soil C-emissions per 100ms for Indian Head area (Natural Resources Canada, 1990)
rise in sea levels of 0.2 to 0.6 meters during this century
(Nordhaus, 2008)
Image: www.animalaid.otg.uk
Calculations for Indian Head area based on linear coefficient for first 20yrs. after practice change
recent estimates of the potential for soil carbon sequestration In the
United States approximates about 15% of the total U.S. emissions for
2000. A conversion to perennial cropping systems would buy time until
the alternatives to fossil fuel take effect.
(Kimble, 2007)
Climate change
Global situation
local solution
50
Peak Oil
Conventional intensive agriculture is heavily dependent
on fossil fuel, producing just one food calorie for every
10 fossil fuel calories, with a trend toward ever-greater
consumption (Pimentel and Giampietro 1993, 1). A
search for alternatives to this system is imminent, given
the outlook of peak oil. Research from the Land Institute
suggests that the infrastructure and research needed
non-conventional oil
----------- development of existing reserves
to develop an agriculture based on renewable power
----------- development of new discoveries
^-^- enhanced oil recoveries
sources should be established now while we have the
----------- existing capacities
2000
luxury of cheap energy (Bender, 2002, 26).
Estimations using corn as a model crop reveal that total
energy in agricultural production could be reduced by
more than fifty percent with a reduction in the size of
machinery replacing commercial nitrogen with legume
cultivars, and reduced soil erosion (Pimentel 2008,
468).
Reductions in the energy ratio of crops to inputs were
also observed at the Land Institute Sunshine Farm,
where a study conducted energy accounting of its 85-ha
organic farm powered by commercial biodiesel, draft
horses, and a photovoltaic array. Legume crops provided nitrogen, and no nutrients were imported except
some purchased feed. Here they observed an energy
ratio of 0.2 compared to conventional farming's 0.1 ratio
of fossil fuel to food calories, though in this instance
no non-renewable fuels were used (Bender 2002, 26).
The work at the Land Institute provides a precedent for
the implementation of an alternative agricultural system
directed toward renewable energy recourses.
Oil production profiles (million barrels / day)
(World Energy Output, 2004)
Peak oil projections
51
¦=1=^
5000+
i
2000 - 5000
1000-2000
500-1000
200 - SOO
100-200
20-100
*
WORLD MAP
Oil import demand by county
numbers in thousands of barrels / day
{World Resources Institute)
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
global
local
solutions
conventional agriculture is heavily fossil fuel dependant with a trend toward ever greater consumption
alternative agricultural infrastructure based on renewable power sources show promise to alleviate our
dependence on fossil fuel.
Energy ratio of crops to inputs intensive
agriculture:
Energy ratio of crops to inputs through
renewable power sources and alternative land
management:
situation
Oo =
food cal.
^-^
fossil fuel cal.
CEL
0o
food cal.
food cal.
= F,
=
= f 2009
possible
future
fossil fuel cal.
Today 1 0 fossil fuel calories to produce 1 food calorie with a trend
toward even greater consumption of fossil fuels by the agricultural
sector
(Pimentel and Giampietro, 1993)
Estimations using corn as a model crop reveal that total energy in agricultural production could be reduced by more than 50% with the following
changes: 1) smaller machinery/less fuel 2) replacing commercial nitrogen
with legume cultivars 3) reduced soil erosion.
(Pimentel, 2008)
Energy intensive agriculture
Image: www.abc.net.au/reslib/200711/r206766_78B562.jpg
Research from the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas suggests that the
infrastructure and research needed to develop an agriculture based on
renewable power sources should be established now while we have the
luxury of high energy ratios from fossil fuels.
(Bender, 2002)
Peak oil
Global situation - local solution
Image: www.abc.net.au/reslib/20071 1 /r206766_788562.jpg
52
Desertification
Desertification results from the mismanagement of land
and as such it decreases soil fertility and agronomic
productivity, leading to the degradation of soil structures and the depletion of soil carbon pools (LaI 2008,
1 1 5A). Given its ability to increase soil organic carbon
pools, perennial grain producing crops show potential
to simultaneously addresses the adverse effects of
desertification (LaI 2008, 115A).
The deep root system of the perennial cultivars reaches
depths of two meters or more, leaking carbon-rich plant
sugars into the soil, while feeding organisms that create
and manage other nutrients (Glover 2007, 86). Initiating a positive feedback loop, the implementation of a
perennial grain system shows potential to enhance the
terrestrial carbon pool, which would lead to improve-
prcn—
12 million ha.
lost globally
?nin- 94 million ha
7(111 - 3fi millinn ha.
9m9-4Bmillinnha
7?13- Bn millinn ha
Globally, 1 2 million hectares are lost to desertification a year
(IFAD, 2009)
ments in soil quality, and in turn improve water quality Annual
global area growth of land lost to
desert
and local biodiversity (LaI 2008, 1 1 5A).
Local research into the potential benefit of perennial
cropping systems could provide solutions for areas
greatly affected by the severity of desertification globally.
Scaled to land area of Saskatchewan
53
*r
Hi very high
H high
moderate
low
desert / ice
HB humid
^B arctic
WORLD MAP:
V
?
Regions suffering from desertification
affected regions 1998
{U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Indian Head. Saskatchewan. Canada
global
situation
local
solutions
desertification and
desertification control and
soil degradation:
restoration of degraded
soil and ecosystems:
fk decline of soil fertility and
" agronomic productivity
vj degradation of
O.
improvement in water quality
o and
biodiversity
land use conversion, adoption
of recommended management
practices to enhance terrestrial
carbon pool in soils and biota
Cl improvement
soil structure
Q depletion
of
soil carbon pools
™ in soil quality
«J·:*»·,
Crop damage resulting from saline seepage
Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture
In a century-long study of factors affecting soil erosion, timothy grass,
a perennial hay crop, proved roughly 54 times more effective in maintaining topsoil than annual crops did.
(Glover et al, 2007)
Desertification
Global situation - local solution
54
Oceanie Dead Zones
A derivative of fossil fuels, synthetic fertilizers have
dramatically increased in use over the past 40 years,
and have been implicated as one of the principal causes
for the formation of numerous dead zones (oxygen
depleted oceanic zones) in coastal areas across the
globe (Diaz 2008, 926). Research into the development
of perennial polycultures show potential to improve
nitrogen fixation naturally with intercropped legume
cultivars such as perennial alfalfa.
nitrogen
phosphorus
Given that synthetic fertilizers are extremely energy
Global fert lizer use (million metric tons)
(Food and Agriculture Organization of the
intensive to produce and are ultimately not sustainUnited Nations, 2002)
able, perennial polycultures comprises one promising
nutrient inputs nutrient losses
approach to improving nitrogen fixation naturally while
still maintaining relatively high yields (Crews 2004, 34).
Also, given the extensive root system of the perennial native
cultivars, their implementation along existing tribu- prairie nitrogen fixation
leaching, run off,
mineral weathering
gas fluxes
tary networks as a wide corridor edge to the existing
intensive field crops would control dissolved run-off
substances, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and other
toxins from entering the tributaries and reducing water fertilized ,^^_
1960
OO
^^ft
wheat
^^P
leaching, run off,
gas fluxes
quality locally (Dramstad 1996, 39).
^^m
perennial
polyculture^
leaching, run off,
gas fluxes
nitrogen from high
legume density
Relative avenues of nutrient inputs and
losses for various field conditions
55
Hypoxic System
(Diaz, 2009)
Coastal dead zones
WORLD MAP:
chlorophyll-a (mg/m3)
Nutrient pollution, as runoff
from agricultural production,
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
can be attributed to coastal
dead zones.
local
global
solutions
situation
has dramatically increased over the past 40 years,
contributing to the formation of dead zones in coastal
future development of perennial polycultures shows
promise to improve nitrogen fixation through less
intensive means by the management of natural legume
IDiaz. 2009)
nitrogen fixation
conventional agriculture's use of synthetic fertilizers
areas
Conventional nutrient supply:
1 * *
1992 nitrogen inputs
kg/km '/year
0-1000
1000-5000
5000- 10000
10000-15000
15000-20000
Nutrient supply Comparison:
conventional
nutrient
fertilizers
intercropped
nutrient input
high legume density
application
Watersheds, such as the Mississippi river basin, have been implicated
as one of the principal causes for the expanding hypoxic zone (areas of
acute low oxygen concentrations) of the Gulf of Mexico.
•••üfr···
Given that synthetic fertilizers are ultimately not sustainable and are
extremely energy intensive to produce the development of perennial
polycultures comprises one promising approach to improving nitrogen
(USGS, 2009)
fixation naturally while maintaining relatively high yields.
Exemplified by algae blooms in James Bay, the Nelson River basin
watershed, covering much of the area of southern Saskatchewan,
contributes to increasing concentrations of nitrate to Hudson Bay.
Spring wheat intercropped with soy bean.
Image: wvw.exactrix.conVirnages/Dec_05_GLiy/YokeyPics/DSCD5299.ipg
Image: www.eosnap.com/?tag=hudson-bay
Oceanic dead zones
Global situation - local solution
56
Local Ecologies
In an agricultural community there is a direct relationship between community and land, human and soil.
Today it can be seen that current agricultural technology now tends to distance oneself from the human
J86OiWH
landscape with ever-bigger machines operating on
an immense and growing scale. It is, however, ironic
that these machines read and interpret the landscape
with ever-increasing accuracy, recording very subtle
121 90mm
changes in the soil's capacity to remain productive. The
increased use of GIS systems for precision agriculture
for the purpose of analyzing crop yield and nutrient
management has enable farmers to create their own
data bank, providing an extremely accurate history of
subtle processes of the landscape.
By engaging the Research Farm and a number of adjacent corporate farms, a community data bank can be
Largest machines in stock
South Country Equipment Ltd.
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
mam
Wm
mm
accumulated, providing a collective reading of the local
landscape's agro-ecology. This will provide community
members with a greater understanding of the processes
occurring on the land from a landscape scale. Much of
this inventory could be acquired through the collection
of GIS field data accumulated through precision agriculture and would allow for a detail reading of the subtle
micro-ecologies of the township site. This collection of
Community elevator
information could be housed centrally within the com- Elevators are the centre of an agricultural
munity and be given public access to allow community community. A node or collection place, not
simply for grain, but for local producers to
members and visitors to the area the opportunity to read discuss their own experiences of working the
and interpret the processes of the landscape through land, and ways of improving this work. In this
way, this elevator would be an ideal location
the lens of this information technology.
to house the community field data bank.
57
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59
From here an analysis of our current modes of operation
on the land merge with our greater understanding of
the global issues at play. Interpreting this data objectively makes apparent the direct relationship between
greenhouse gas emissions and productivity, fossil fuel
use and nutrient supply, and all of the many issues
affecting modern agriculture today. The mappings
reveal how low yielding areas would be treated with a
greater supply of fossil fuel derived nutrients, requiring
ever-greater amounts of energy to push the limits of the
productivity of the soil.
What becomes remarkably clear while viewing this type
of data in this manner, is how much our agricultural
system today disregards the natural inconstancies of
the soil by planting immense swaths of annual cropping
systems. The subtleties of the land that once defined
the ecological niche habitat for a variety of perennial
grasses have since been stripped and replaced by a
single annual monoculture species. It is interesting to
note that the invention of precision agriculture technology, which has been to help support and improve the
existing intensive agricultural system, has also provided
the evidence to begin to question this very system it
was designed to assist when viewed through the lens
of ecology and global environmental concern.
With all of this in mind we begin to sense a shift to a
more ecologically responsive agricultural system if we
are to sustain local ecologies.
"Vi^Annual Wheat
Triticum aestivum
Monoculture annual wheat aerial photo /
GIS precision agriculture imagery
Indicating variation of soil structure and
potential agroecology of site
Indian Head Research Farm
60
LANDSCAPE REDEMPTION
We live in a "fallen world": the nature
that produced us - particularly nature's
ecosystems which fed and clothed us as
we gathered and hunted - has been almost
totally destroyed or seriously damaged
during the 8,000-1 0,000 years of agriculture.
We have really changed the face of the
earth.
- Wes Jackson, founder and current
president of The Land Institute (Wes
Jackson 1989,1091)
Indigenous perennial grasslands
Grasslands National Park
Saskatchewan, Canada
61
Natural Systems Agriculture
In understanding the diversity of issues at play in the
local agricultural landscape surrounding Indian Head,
questions arise as to the viability of our current modes
of operating on this land. Projecting future assumptions about the challenges of climate change and peak
oil furthers the incentive to search for alternatives to Natural grasslands
Grasslands National Park
our current system of agriculture. A carbon intensive
methodology is now no longer considered a viable way
of working the land and the challenge remains for us to
seek alternatives to this current mode of working.
Alternatives that model agroecosystems on nature's
standards are currently on the periphery of agricultural Hybrid perennial wheat
research, but are gaining larger acceptance as research Agrophyron smithii
(Image: Dehann, 2009)
evolves. Natural systems agriculture relies on an ecological perspective that makes evident the wisdom in
natural ecosystems operations. These systems look
to perennial grain producing crops and polyculture
management as a means to produce cropping systems
that benefit from growing in diverse natural communities
(Wes Jackson 1989, 1092). The purpose of develop- Perennial crop research
ing such agroecosystems would be to produce a truly The Land Institute, Salina, Kansas
(Image: The Land Institute)
sustainable landscape, relying primarily on sunlight
and locally derived nutrients, and naturally reflecting
the patterns of succession, energy flow, and nutrient
'.*%:
cycling that occur in natural ecosystems (Wes Jackson
1989,1092).
mm
This shift in landscape management would also have Polyculture strips
Spring wheat intercropped with soy bean
an immense impact on our ability to perceive a local (Image: Exactrix Global Systems)
62
cultural shift through the direct observation of a cultural proposed perennial
, u , NETWORKS + NODES
understanding about the value of ecology. As our global
culture shifts from a carbon intensive economy to a
Perennial Test Crop
Co-operative Network
more sustainable carbon neutral economy, the value of
natural systems agriculture becomes self-evident.
Contemporary
Field Condition
Currently, Indian Head has the initial research infrastructure to facilitate the implementation of an extensive
research program that would formally investigate natural
systems agriculture and its larger application for the
Western Canadian provinces. The scale of work will be
Corporate
Field Condition
Land Ownership
drawn through an analogy to the immense scale of the
original corporate Bell Farm. However, this proposal will
not seek the instant total transformation of landscape
Transport
Infrastructure
that once occurred on this land, but looks to slowly
weave a new layer of agricultural research infrastructure
that will graft itself to the existing landscape condition
through the cooperation of local farmers and community
Subdivision
partnerships.
Bell Farm
Lnid Ownership
Dominion
Survey Grid
Bell Farm
Land Area
BtIi Farm
Pre-Setuement
Landscape
Project Study Area
Township
Layered history of site
Showing scale of Bell Farm and proposed
perennial crop test site
63
Adding Value to the Agricultural Landscape
Economic Value
RURAL MUNICIPALITY OF INDIAN HEAD
\
The significant role that soil plays in the community is
a key component of the design strategy. Understanding the soil in terms of its organic carbon sequestering
capabilities is key to addressing the added value of
researching natural systems agriculture as an alternative to our current system of intensive farming. Much
of the benefit of conversion to a cropping system that
more closely resembles a natural ecosystem is the
given ability to replenish the soil organic carbon (SOC)
once lost when the sod was first turned during the Rural municipality site plan of Indian
initial 'sod-bust' land use change. Recent estimates Head
for the potential of soil carbon sequestration in the Site plan depicts:
1) Extent of historic Bell Farm (brown)
United States approximates about 1 5% of the total U.S.
emissions for 2000 (LaI 2004, 1623). A conversion to 2) Proposed extent of area necessary to
be turned to perennial crop management
perennial cropping systems would buy time until the to offset town carbon footprint for
alternatives to fossil fuel take effect.
To be clear, research into the potential sequestration
capabilities of soils is still in developmental research and
is dependent on many factors, including differences in
land management strategies and local soil conditions.
However, current research has shown the potential for
soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration, particularly
during a change of land use from an intensive land
management strategy to a perennial based system over
a given time horizon (McConkey, 2009).
approximately 40 years taking current
emissions as static (red)
64
Given the history of Indian Head's pioneering 'sodbusting' and subsequent land management strategies,
the soil surrounding the town in the study area of the
6 mile by 6 mile township has lost nearly enough soil
organic carbon to provide a carbon sink that could
potentially offset the town's annual carbon footprint
for a period of approximately 40 years (see the story
of the local soil on the following page). The potential
economic gain of this carbon sink in the form of carbon credits could also provide economic incentive for
surrounding farmers to switch to a more ecologically
benign agricultural system. Through continued research
into perennial grain producing cultivars and their larger
application in natural systems agriculture production,
the Research Farm can activate a strategy that could
have Indian Head at the forefront of agricultural research
and ecological advocacy.
O Dérivée) from Cocal
Field lnfci Data Pfjt,
[FIDJ/pointA6039? .
production:
\^ 33kg Wheat/1 00m2/Yeài\
-#^vv Sequestration: _
> .·.
N
20RgGQ2/1Q0m2/Y^r-¡ '
(¡Perennial Cereal ¿lantìi\§)
Location of GIS field data point
Information from this field data point used for all soil carbon
sequestration calculations for following pages
Area refers to a 1 0m ? 1 0m square area of soil on the precision
agriculture research field located northeast of Indian Head
65
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Ecological Value
The premise of the proposed strategy is to promote an
agricultural landscape that could serve many functions:
culturally, economically, and ecologically. As can be
witnessed in our current monoculture landscape, we
have developed a system of operation on the land that
disregards many of the serious local ecological impacts
such as water pollution, soil erosion, and pesticide
toxicity, not to mention the global scale ramifications
of such a system, including climate change, acid precipitation, ozone depletion, etc.
Much of this system is governed by the intensive use
of fossil fuels in order to provide the required nutrients
to support the monoculture annual system. Currently,
global issues of peak oil and climate change demand
alternatives, and a subversion of this system is appropriate.
This proposal seeks to subvert the existing monoculture
landscape by initiating research into the development of
perennial polycultures based on their own unique grow-
ing characteristics and ability to naturally fix nutrients
through intercropping.
Perennial polycultures comprise one promising approach to improving nitrogen fixation naturally while
maintaining relatively high yields (Crews 2004, 34).
This system has the potential to completely renovate
the way in which we experience and appreciate the
agrarian landscape.
70
Currently, with the advent of GIS systems and precision
agriculture we have the technology to read and interpret the subtle variations in the soil's capabilities. This
work proposes that this information be incorporated on
a large scale to produce field planting plans that correlate directly with crop productivity and field location.
This could be achieved with GPS assisted seeding and
minor alterations to conventional seeders. In this way
the diversification of our planting systems will allow
individual species of crops to be grown in their own
corresponding niche and soil condition - reflecting the
natural mechanisms that make up the Native Prairie.
The following page describes this process.
BEFORE
AFTER
Before and after
Existing precision agriculture research field
Proposed perennial polyculture large-scale test crop field
71
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72
Cultural Value
At this point the experience of walking the English
countryside begins to inform the work. It was here
where a reading of the multitude of layers of history was
unveiled as I walked along the public footpath system.
The footpath has a human dimension to it, allowing
the opportunity to intimately interact with the process
Navigating through Open Prairie
'Pitching' trails - piciw (Cree)
"s/he moves camp: moves his/her belongings and
family"
- Travel with dogs before hourse were aquired. Women
owned the dogs and had up to 1 2 dogs each.
- The camp could travel an average of 20 km in a day.
Summer Grounds
Hunting
Wintering Grounds
Shelter and Firewood
occurring in the landscape. Familiar landmarks of oast Traditional Prairie Navigation
houses dotted the land, assisting as a kind of reference
(Thraves, 2007, 120)
along the way. Having access to this landscape has
generated a greater sense of stewardship over the land,
a sentiment that is felt by many who choose to live and
make their livelihood in such a landscape.
On the prairies we have largely lost this sense of stewardship. Walking the countryside in and around Indian
Head, one is confronted with an absence of these hu-
man qualities, finding it nearly impossible to appreciate the many dimensions of the landscape as one is
restricted by grid roads and fencerows.
The proposal is also an attempt to layer a cultural dimension to the landscape by allowing public access
along a series of networks and nodes that facilitate
public interaction and didactic learning of the perennial
cropping systems within the proposed landscape.
Footpath through proposed landscape
Beads indicate experiential path sequence
Working site model detail
73
LANDSCAPE ACTIVATION
Once a walk has been completed it cannot
be destroyed.
- Hamish Fulton, walking artist (Fulton
2009)
^
Ä>
i
Networks and nodes
Activating the Prairie landscape surrounding
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
74
Networks and Nodes
NETWORKS + NODES
mima
Indian Head Research Farm Field Lab
The proposal for a Natural Systems Agricultural Research Institute would be initiated through the partner-
KENTBAL APHN. EUVATQ
Additional
GRANARY 2
Granaries +
Agroforestry Classroom
ship of the two institutions located on the periphery of
town (Indian Head Research Farm and the Shelterbelt
Research Centre) and activated in the landscape by the
co-operation of the local farming community through a
series of networks and nodes. These two institutions are
Granary Nodes
already embedded in the history of the local landscape
I amp SfialB Field
Test Crops
and have close ties with the surrounding agricultural
producers. The proposal is to strengthen these ties to
the community by creating a network of perennial grain
producing test crops that would extend throughout the
monocrop mosaic of the surrounding countryside.
Connectivity
Network
This network will allow for a higher degree of connectiv-
Perennial Polyculture
Network
g
ity throughout the landscape by creating a collection of
nodes linked by a series of corridors that will emphasize
Test Crops
its ecological function and facilitate flows and movements across the existing field condition (Dramstad
1996,41).
,:;w
*>
Tributary Liner /
Marginai Land
Test Crops
»^^
T^~ Trihiilarli..
m
Contemporary
Monocrop
Field Condition
Layered site plan
Indicates perennial polyculture network
and granary nodes
75
risto,;
h=Hbr»n
&
Site plan - Activating the landscape
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
Longitude: 103.650W
Latitude: 50.5250N
Site plan shows the extents ofthe proposed series of networks and
nodes that comprise the Natural Systems Agricultural Research
Institute.
Networks of perennial grain producing test crops are activated
throughout the existing landscape through the co-operation of
the local farming community, Indian Head Research Farm, and
the PFRA Shelterbelt Centre.
Nodes are indicated as dots and represent the proposed locations
for 14 granaries and the central administrative elevator located
within the town site of Indian Head.
76
Landscape Network
The perennial test crop network will take advantage of
three distinct landscape situations. Firstly, the main
network will be provided by the donation of marginal or
underutilized land on the perimeter of local producer's
fields. Largely located along the perimeter of tributaries
running through the Site, thiS tributary liner Will inCOrpO- 1) Perennial polyculture test crop tributary liner a
marginal land belt plantings
rate strips of perennial test crops grown in a variety of
polycultures designed to benefit from spatial, seasonal,
and nutritional pairing. These test crops will be paired
with a riparian buffer of short rotation willow, effectively
protecting riparian areas from chemical and residual
runoff from the larger field agricultural systems. This
planting belt will provide many environmental benefits
through the enhancement of biodiversity through the
creation of a network of wildlife corridors and protec-
tion of soil and water through the riparian structures
2) Perennial polyculture test crop road allowance network
and root absorption (Dramstad 1 996, 39).
The second network will take advantage of the underutilized road allowances that remain in the area.
Currently, many road allowances still remain as a type
m
of rural public space and continue to provide relief
habitat as wildlife corridors throughout the agricultural
landscape. Although many of these road allowances
are currently being taken over by adjacent landowners
for crop production, this proposal demands that these
areas remain in the hands of the public. The proposal
3) Perennial polyculture large-scale test
crop field plantings
is to initiate strips of perennial test crops grown within Showing
Landscape3 distinct
site planlandscape situations
these road allowances, ensuring the enhancement of
77
biodiversity for the area and allowing for greater interconnectivity of habitat.
A third area currently operated as an extension of the
Research Farm precision agriculture fields will provide
the testing grounds for the large-scale application of
these perennial grain producing agroecosystems, providing an example of how research into such alternative
land management practices can spread to the adjacent
fields and beyond.
1 ) Perennial polyculture test crop tributary liner a
marginal land belt plantings
The ecological benefits of the perennial test crop network will be paired with a cultural initiative for increased
pedestrian access, participation and interconnectivity
sa^SfeíÉP^- ^
throughout this network. This will allow all individuals
from the community, and those visiting the Research Institute, the opportunity to participate intimately with the
landscape, providing a greater sense of connection and
obligation to the land. An informal system of pathways
is proposed throughout the test crop network, allow- 2) Peremlal p°^ulturetest CT°p road a"°wance "6lwork I
ing opportunities for didactic learning of the ongoing
research into the perennial grains and their application
through natural systems agriculture.
3) Perennial polyculture large-scale test
crop field plantings
Landscape site model
Showing 3 distinct landscape situations
78
A layer of perennial polyculture test crop network woven
into existing landscape fabric. This network provides an
ecological cooridor and pedestrian access, enabelling greater
interconectivity both ecologically and culturally, throughout the
site
Granary nodes spacing relative to their yeild capacity along the
perennial polyculture test crop network
Matrix of geo-coordinates generated through GPS recording of
walk provides reference points for topographical mapping. The
matrix is representative of the existing landscape condition.
Georeference site model generated through walking
Perennial polyculture network woven into existing landscape
Granary nodes provide topographical references
79
Perennial polyculture test crop tributary liner and marginal land
belt plantings
View looking north east
Perennial polyculture test crop road allowance network
Granary node
View looking south east
Perennial polyculture large-scale test crop field plantings
View looking south west
View looking north west
Georeference site model generated through walking
Aerial views of landscape model
Views oriented towards the town site of Indian Head
80
Granary Nodes
The network of perennial test crops is connected by
a series of nodes. These nodes act as a point of col-
lection within the perennial network, providing an intermediate location for the sorting, storage and drying
of the perennial grains. As such, these locations have
been developed as a series of perennial granaries to
assist with the cultural and ecological activation of the
local Prairie landscape. The granaries achieve this by
also providing a collection point for people to gather,
for those seeking refuge from the elements along the
informal footpath system. Their location also functions
as a point of intersection within the perennial network,
allowing for increased connectivity within the network
node location no.12
H- Ite *
for effective ecological corridor linkages.
The granary's function is to embody the workings of
the landscape intervention. As the proposed network
of test crop offers a multitude of functions (carbon sequestration, increased biodiversity, wildlife corridors,
footpath system, etc.) so too does the granary. Its primarily function is to house and dry grain passively. This
function is expressed in its ability to utilize the prevailing
wind to assist with the drying of grain following harvest.
This is achieved by inducing a stack effect that pas-
sively draws air up and through the core of the building
assisted by a responsive building form and wind cowl
system that captures the prevailing winds to help draw
the air up1^ and out of the building.a As each granary is Granary
nodeforsketch
elevation/plan
Initial sketch
perennial
granary
inherently adaptable, a number of them could also
81
provide a local source of wind power with the addition
of a vertical wind turbine on the rooftop level.
The granaries also allow access into the heart of the
storage bay, permitting individuals the experience
to witness the results of a successful harvest of the
perennial polyculture test crops through a series of
corresponding vertical storage bags. The harvested
polyculture grains are initially sorted and stored within
a system of breathable grain bags that also provide
indications of a particular cultivar species. The lower
floor offers a communal sheltered space, and access
is granted for those who wish to continue up through
the granary to reach the top lookout tower.
Granary node
Agroforestry Classroom
Each granary is to be considered unique to its own Shelterbelt Research Centre
specific site situation. Two granaries, the Agroforestry
Classroom and the Perennial Research Lab, have been
developed and are located at the beginning and end of
the experiential path sequence described in the following section. All granaries share a similar construction
strategy allowing flexibility in form to respond to local
landscape phenomena. The granaries are to be developed locally for each site responding to wind, sun,
and existing site conditions. For example, given that
the Agroforestry Classroom is located on the western
end of an existing trail at the PFRA Shelterbelt Research
Centre, it forms an entry facing east. The structure
twists along a central axis toward the northwest in order
to utilize the prevailing wind for drying the grain.
Granary node
Perennial Research Lab
Indian Head Research Farm
82
Natural elements relating to the process of harvesting
and drying grain were explored as a means to generate
ideas for how these granaries could respond and reflect
the local site conditions. In this way observation and
analysis of local wind and sun patterns were important
fr-.»
». *· ». -
considerations for informing the overall function and
form of the granary structures. Each element was explored through series of conceptual models.
Solar - conceptual study model
Model investigates potential for utilizing
solar angles to inform building function
Solar - cut/fill model
Solar angle at the time of harvest cut into field soil
Wind - cut/fill model
Annual wind direction and frequency cut into landscape
Wind - conceptual study model
Model investigates potential for utilizing
wind patterns to inform building function
83
These elements were synthesized further to inform
^
the functional qualities of the granaries. In functional,
structural and experiential terms, the design of the Agroforestry Classroom presents the series of relationships
that are shared by all of the granaries to be built. All
granaries are 'rooted' into the ground. This is achieved
by lowering the communal gathering space, such that
when one enters this space the Prairie horizon begins
to read at eyelevel. As each granary utilizes a structural
core to store the variety of grain crop achieved in a pe-
Grain distribution and sorting
Rooftop lookout
rennial polyculture system, opportunities are provided
for individuals to didactically learn about the processes
J
of sorting, storage and drying of the variety of perennial
grain. This learning process is realized through a succession of experiences by circulating up past the stor-
age bags hung within the core, through the distribution
bay, and up to the upper level of the granary where one
is granted views over the activated landscape from the
rooftop lookout.
The following pages describe two granaries that have
Cumulation past the vertical perennial storage bags
n.r.r
been further developed as typologies of the peren-
nial granary: the Agroforestry Classroom and Perennial
Research Lab. The Agroforestry Classroom is typical
H^HHTw /i
of the perennial granary, as it is expressive of all of the
functional, structural, and experiential qualities that
compose each granary. The Perennial Research Lab
is to act as annex research station for the Indian Head
Research Farm located within the large-scale test crop
field. Given its additional program, it is designed to
Ground floor gathering space
Agroforestry Classroom sectional model
provide additional lab space for onsite research and Depicts the succession of experiences
shared by all granaries
84
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85
5th
ROOFTOP
LOOKOUT
PFRA Shelterbelt Research Centre
Location
4th
GRAIN
DISTRIBUTION
3rd
CIRCULATION
Perennial Granary: Agroforesty Classroom
Proposed Location
Perennial test crop network
Aerial ¡mage above
Perennial Granary
Agroforesty Classroom
2nd
CIRCULATION
«
1st
CIRCULATION
Ground
CLASSROOM
Existing agroforestry nursary fields
Perennial test crop network
N
Perennial granary: Agroforestry Classroom
Agroforestry Classroom site location
Structure plans indicate succession of experience as one PFRA Shelterbelt Research Centre
circulates upward
86
Perennial granary: Agroforestry Classroom
Aerial model view
Í
11
wmsm
Perennial granary: Agroforestry Classroom
Northwest/southeast prevailing wind section
Perennial granary: Agroforestry Classroom
Indicates internal structural core and perennial grain vertical Model view from grade
storage bags
87
mm
Ivi/i ft
Perennial granary: Agroforestry Classroom
Sectional model - Indicates core laminated structure, ring
beams and exterior gridshell
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5th
ROOFTOP
LOOKOUT
Large scale perennial test crop fields
4th
GRAIN
DISTRIBUTION
3rd
RESEARCH LAB
Perennial Granary
Perennial Research Lab
2nd
RESEARCH LAB
Perennial Granary:
Perennial Research Lab
Aerial image above
1st
RESEARCH LAB
F.
Ground
COMMUNAL SPACE
Perennial test crop network
Large scale perennial test crop fields
N
Perennial granary: Perennial Research Lab
Perennial Research Lab Site location
Structure plans indicate additional lab space and succession Indian Head Research Farm large-scale
of experience as one circulates upward
test crop field
90
Perennial granary: Perennial Research Lab
Aerial model view
¿§^\\\?
Perennial granary: Perennial Research Lab
North/south solar section
Perennial granary: Perennial Research Lab
Indicates internal structural core and perennial grain vertical storage Model view from grade
bags, floor plates used to shade core during summer months
91
«\\\\\
Perennial granary: Perennial Research Lab
Working model - Indicates core laminated structure, floor
plates and exterior grid shell
92
Acting as landmarks, additional granaries would be
visible throughout the landscape. As one traverses the
informal system of footpaths, glimpses of the granaries
on the horizon provide reference and destination points
for navigation along the network by foot. Their location
would also provide intervals along the perennial test
crop network that would correspond their grain storage
capacity, given the specificity of the surrounding section
perennial network yield.
Additional perennial granaries
Views from experiential path sequence
Additional perennial granary
View of granary looking northwest
93
The structure of the granary utilizes locally harvested
small dimension timber grown at the PFRA Shelterbelt
Centre nursery, providing a source of additional local
income in the form of harvestable agroforestry products.
Building with these materials allows for greater potential in the flexibility of form, allowing for the structures
freedom to respond to local site conditions.
Prior to undertaking the design of the granary, I carried
out a measured drawing study of an existing timber
elevator in Indian Head (See: Appendices). In many
respects, these immense timber elevators are representative of the past and current monocrop annual
crop landscape condition on the Prairies. Designed Material exploration
to house a limited variety of crop in large quantities,
Tee-pee construction
these large storehouses of grain formally speak to the
scale and management of the landscape the surrounds
them. When approaching the design for the perennial
granary, considerations for a smaller scale storehouse
with greater variety and intricacy in structure, and a
natural elegancy in its systems are reflective of the
proposed perennial polyculture agricultural system.
Each granary is to be constructed with members of
the community, engaging community involvement as a
means of embedding these structures into the cultural
fabric of the landscape.
The construction methodology and sequence has been
adapted from the assembly of a tee-pee, referencing -r-—'J
an interpretation of structure and skin. The granaries MME
would be designed and built with the community utiliz- JpBSB
Construction sequence
ing a construction system of small dimension timber. Tee-pee construction
Structure and skin
94
The internal laminated structural components could be
assembled in town, erected on site in sequence with
necessary staging and supports, and wrapped with the
exterior structural grid shell. This type of structural sys-
tem was explored during a recent design-build project in
Flying Dust First Nations, Saskatchewan, and has since
informed the structural possibilities of the granaries
(See: Appendices).
The sequence of the construction of the Agroforestry
Classroom granary is described on the following pages
and provides an example for the construction of the
other granaries.
Material exploration
Flying Dust First Nations, SK, Canada
Environmental pavilion construction
Construction sequence
Granary model construction
Structure (laminated timber) and skin (grid shell)
95
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Walking the Landscape
As this shift in landscape management would be
initiated from the ground up through the collective
cooperation of adjacent landowners and community
members, it is fitting that human experience of walking
through the township site would begin to describe the
intensions of this proposal. In this way, it is through Begin 8.8km walk
T
Perennial Granary:
direct experience and an intimate relationship with the A9rofores"y classroom
processes of the land that makes this proposal tangible.
Through walking the network of perennial test crops and
experiencing a successful harvest of this revolutionary
cropping system, one can begin to sense how it may be
possible for much of the Prairies to adapt from a fossil
fuel intensive monocrop system of agriculture to one
that reflects the true wisdom found in nature, producing a truly sustainable landscape that optimizes local
ecologies, economies, and social embeddedness. The
experience of the walk reinforces ones connection to
Town Site
Perennial Admin. Elevator
V
this changing landscape and the cooperation necessary
to make the initial proposal materialize.
The following sequence of experience illustrates the before and after scenario prior to and following the implementation of the proposed Natural Systems Agricultural
Research Institute. The before scenario documents
a path through a series of panoramic sequences that
I had walked during my initial studies of the community. The after scenario presents the activation of the
Complete 8.8km Walk
Perennial Granary: Perennial Research Lab
landscape by the addition of perennial network layered Landscape site model
Showing path as depicted in the following
upon the preexisting landscape condition. The process before and after walking sequence
99
of walking the after scenario allows for a tangible un-
derstanding and a didactic way of learning about the j
new processes implemented throughout the network
tç
of perennial test crops. The after scenario provides
an experiential sequence along this network, one that
unfolds along an informal footpath as one completes
an 8.8 km. walk from the Agroforestry Classroom located at the PFRA Shelterbelt Research Centre to the
Perennial Research Lab located within the proposed
Research Farm's perennial polyculture large-scale test Agroforestry
perennial Granary:
Classroom
crop fields.
The following pages describe the before and after se-
?.
quence of this experience.
WÊ
Perennia Admin. E evator
fF
Complete 8.8km Walk
Perennial Granary: Perennial Research Lab
Landscape site plan
Showing path as depicted in the following
before and after walking sequence
100
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Beginning the walk at the PFRA Shelterbelt
Research Centre
One passes by a section of the perennial
polyculture test crop network and notices
the sense of diversity created by the
planting belt. The enhancement of
biodiversity is not simply produced by
the variety of perennial grains alone, but
BEFORE
is also a result of the creation of wildlife
corridors provided by the perennial
network.
On the horizon one can spot an additional
granary. Located about 2 kilometers away,
it provides a visual point of reference if
one were to follow this section of the
perennial network south towards it.
GRANARY 12
AFTER
B.8km WALK
103
Reaching the Agroforestry Classroom
granary
Located within the Shelterbelt Research
Centre and along a section of the test
crop network, the Agroforestry Classroom
allows individuals the opportunity to
experience and learn about the first
completed granary built from locally
grown agroforestry materials on site. The
area will also teach about the potential
benefits for locally grown and harvested
agroforestry products on the Prairies for
GRANARY 2
biomass energy production and small
AGROFORESTRY dimension building materials.
CLASSROOM
In addition, this granary functions similarly
to all of the other granaries and shares
the succession of experiences as one
enters the ground floor gathering space,
circulates past the vertical perennial
storage bags and grain distribution bay
to reach the rooftop lookout.
104
Walking towards town
Continuing along the path through the
perennial test crop network, one passes
community members gathering materials
for local biomass energy production and
straw bale building material.
BEFORE
i- 1 ILa1 4
GRANARY 2
105
PNV
Passing through town
Here, one reaches the local perennial
elevator. Initially repurposed to store and
manage the new perennial grain crop,
it also acts as an administrative centre
for the Natural Systems Agricultural
Research Institute.
ADMINISTRATIVE
ELEVATOR
AFTEfl
106
Community perennial research
park-scape
Continuing through town, one passes
in to a section of the perennial test
crop network that extends throughout
the town along the existing creek. This
network finds new purpose for the open
spaces along the creek that flows through
town, allowing for everyday community
engagement of the research that is being
conducted in and around Indian Head.
107
Indian Head Research Farm
Passing through the Indian Head Research
Farm one comes to an additional granary
that didactically introduces the processes
of harvesting, sorting, and storage of the
variety of perennial. This granary allows
individuals the experience to witness
events that proceed the successful
harvest of the perennial polyculture.
108
Large-scale perennial test crop fields
Continuing along the perennial network
one completes the walk by reaching
the large-scale perennial test crop fields
and finally, the Perennial Research Lab.
By walking through the polyculture
patchwork, one can understand how
the variety of species of crops, grown in
BEFORE
their own corresponding niche and soil
condition, reflects the natural mechanisms
that make up the native Prairie.
Here, one can also have a chance to walk
their ecological footprint. The perennial
landscapes ability to offset an individual's
carbon emissions can be traced along a
PERENNIAL RESEARCH
path that circumscribes an area of the
perennial field that can offset their own
LAB
emissions.
GRANARY 1
AFTER
!complete
B.8kmWALK
CONCLUSION
As architects, we are trained to solve problems. Through
my experience of investigating a Prairie town and its
relationship to the surrounding agrarian landscape, a
problem arises when I discovered a systematic disassociated of community and land. The problem is not the
community of Indian Head, nor is it the countless other
small towns that compose our rural fabric. The problem
has been transforming the face of the earth for over
eight thousand years. The problem is agriculture.
The problem is vast. But throughout this study I have
come to terms with how a single community can be an
initiator for change, not just for itself, but to also provide
an example for other communities and regions to follow.
By relying on an ecological perspective and the wisdom
found in nature, it is possible to seek elegant solutions
to this problem, solutions that will likely benefit rural
communities and landscapes together.
110
APPENDICES
Building with Community
Flying Dust First Nation, Saskatchewan, Canada
In the summer of 2009 I was invited by the Cities and
Environment Unit at Dalhousie University to join them
and eight other architecture students to participate in
Locating a site for the pavilion
a community-based design and build project in Flying
Dust. Flying Dust is a Cree First Nation reserve located
in central Saskatchewan along the western boarder
near the town of Meadow Lake. The community has
been working with the Cities and Environment Unit on
a comprehensive community-based planning project
since 2006.
Determining the scale of the proposed
pavilion
The design/build project was considered a kick-start
project to implement some of the ideas that have been
developing through the community-based planning
process. Through this process it was decided that the
community was interested in building an environmental
pavilion; a place for individuals to gather, to teach and
to engage with their surrounding environments.
_______ _.. _ ¡"«aar3BBWPv .JW?i%.·
On-site community design meeting
We began with the design and siting of the pavilion.
Lead by the community and developed through a series of workshops, this design process facilitated the
communities participation in all aspects of the project.
The circle, an element of traditional building, became
a very important consideration for design of the pavil- Assembling the gridshell
ion. Through many design meetings, an appropriate
111
gathering space was determined and the initial design
ideas were distilled to create an outdoor enclosure for
the pavilion.
WZW
?
Two walls were built to simply create a sense of enclosure, one monolithic the other tectonic. The monolithic
Tun
"?
wall was developed to block sound from the near-by
highway, and is clad in recycled rubber belting. The
tectonic gridshell structure allowed the opportunity
to experiment with form and structure. The donated
Inside the pavilion
1 "x4" strapping proved to provide an extremely strong
structure once all members were fastened into place.
This structure was conceived to emulate the skin of the
tee-pee, wrapping the enclosure to provide shade to
the south and openness to the east.
Having had the opportunity to work with the community Completing the grid shell
of Flying Dust not only informed the structural possibilities of the granaries, but also made fundamentally clear
the importance of working with others in a participatory design process in order to engage and empower
a community.
Testing the structure
The completed environmental pavilion
(Image: Jardine 2009)
112
Building with Local Materials
Vacuum-Sealed Straw Panel - Material Studies
In an effort to find alternative ways of incorporating
local materials into the design and construction of the
granary, I have explored a using straw as a means to
create a flexible, lightweight insulation panel. Material
studies were undertaken to explore the potential to
re-use Grain Bag polyethylene film (Grain Bags are locally used as temporary granaries, this material is either
disposed of or returned to the manufacturer after it's
use). This work proposes to reuse this film as part of
a vacuum-sealed straw panel system.
Grain Bag polyethylene
Used locally for temporary storage of grain
Early studies of a compressed/vacuumsealed straw panel system
113
SIMULATING
MODIFIED
BALER:
Using a vacuum former, a number of initial tests were
undertaken using a variety of plastic films. AT Films
TO PRODUCE TIGHTER
SMALLER BALES FOR APPLICATION IN
donated two types of agricultural films for the mate-
VACUUM PACKED WALL
PANEL INSULATION
rial tests; silage film, and Grain Bag film. A number
of panels were produced at half-scale, with varying
degrees of success. The most successful panels were
produced on the vacuum former using only a single
layer of film formed over the bale, then placed within
a frame to maintain its form, flipped, and then sealed
with another single layer of film. Full-scale tests would
need to be done to demonstrate the insulating poten-
tials of such a system, including the possibility for the
larger application in residential homes as an alternative
to fiberglass.
VACUUM-SEALEO
PANEL USING
REUSED GRAIN BAG
POLYETHYLENE:
TO PRODUCE A FLEXIBLE,
LIGHTWEIGHT INSULATION
PANEL
i
Further explorations into a compressed/vacuum-sealed straw Process of creating vacuum-sealed straw
panel system using reused Grain Bag polyethylene
panel.
114
Building
Craik Sustainable Living Project (CSLP), Town of Craik
Craik, Saskatchewan, Canada
Located between Regina and Saskatoon, the town of
1 1 ? p ra
urlili ' t
Craik has reinvented itself as a community focused on
sustaining itself by showcasing a progressive sustainability agenda highlighted in the building of the CSLP
ecocentre. The CSLP has developed
^ intermediate ?aik
(Image:^"f'6
McMillan, S
2004) Project
technology in order to help sustain not just the project
itself, but to extend itself into the community for a larger
community initiative. The project's adaptation to the
changing agricultural economy is physically visible in
the eco-centre's use of local construction materials and
intermediate technologies. Timber framing recycled from
the recently demolished grain elevators that once stood
at the heart of the town expresses a sense of place
within the new construction. Low technology straw bale
construction supplied necessary insulation for the ecocentre while also providing a local farmer with a new
market for fibre production. Passive heating and cooling systems, on-site water collection, and composting
toilets contributed to the centre's growing initiative to
promoting intermediate technology in building systems.
With the project's continued community support during
and since construction, along with recent designation as
part of the United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise
in Environmental Education and Research, the Craik
Sustainable Living Project now provides other community
groups with an opportunity to investigate these kinds of
available alternative intermediate technologies.
115
5.4.7 Arts Center, Studio 804 Dan Rockhill Associates
Greensburg, Kansas, USA
The project was initiated for the town of Greensburg,
Kansas. Having been devastated by a tornado in 2007
the community has since recovered and city council
resolved to rebuild all of the town's buildings to LEED
platinum standards. The community invited University
of Kansas professor Dan Rockhill and the Studio 804
students to design and build a community gallery that
5.4.7 Arts Center, Greensburg, Kansas, US
acts as a meeting point and a flagship for the incredibly studio 804 - Dan Rockhill Associates
progressive plan to reinvent the town as a sustainable ^ g
community. The project is relevant because it shows
how it is possible to work with a community to provide
a catalyst for further sustainable design within the
community.
Downland Gridshell, Edward Cullinan Architects
Chichester, West Sussex, UK
*¥¦&
During my workterm in London I was fortunate to live
with the project architect of the Downland Gridshell,
Steve Johnson. This opportunity allowed for an en-
gagement
with the project provided by his extensive Downland Gridshell,
, „ Chichester,
^u. ,_ t—^7a M
UK
knowledge and background of the project. The proj- (image: Pearhan, 2008)
ect's innovative use of local and traditional building
materials provided cultural continuity by creating a
contemporary addition to the historic timber buildings
of the outdoor museum.
116
Korkeasaari Zoo Lookout Tower, Ville Hará/ Wood Studio
Workship, Helsinki University of Technology
Helsinki, Finland
Located on Korkeasaari Island, this two story gridshell
tower provides a landmark and lookout over the Helsinki harbour. It is composed of a total of 72 battens
with just seven pre-bent types for ease of construction.
The gridshell is a load bearing structure made from
laminated small dimension lumber and consists of over
600 simple connections. This project is relevant to the Korkeasaari Zoo Lookout Tower, .,,.,.
Helsinki,
work of this thesis given its structural capabilities as Finland
Ville Hará - Wood Studio Workshop
a tower and its efficient and innovative use of small (|mage: Lookout Tower, 2007)
dimension lumber.
117
Paterson Elevator
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada
Currently being phased out of use, this timber elevator
was initially built in Avonhurst, Saskatchewan and was
moved 50km. to Indian Head during the 1960's. It is
an ideal location to administer the proposed Research
Institute and would require a significant renovation,
much like the existing agrarian landscape, to house the
greater variety of perennial grains.
Paterson Elevator
Photomontage for potential future use as the first perennial
elevator
I !(. I,
118
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