Build time 4 weeks | Site of project 1 acre | Project value $90,000
A vision for the future is at the heart of every project. Imagining what an outdoor space can potentially become is what makes a job successful and the industry relevant. Seeing into the future isn’t always easy, though. An Atlanta design team had to imagine how a plot of thick asphalt and gravel could become a thriving orchard that powers a community brewery. Creating regenerative and sustainable landscapes is their specialty though, so they pulled off the job in a matter of months.
Shades of Green Permaculture is a design, build and education firm devoted to transforming outdoor spaces into thriving and organic ecosystems. Led by Brandy Hall, the team focuses on three pillars of regeneration: restoring the water cycle, bringing nutrients to the soil and building plant communities. They often work with public entities to build native pollinator habitats and edible landscapes. Their expertise is why the owners of Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing asked them to create a one-acre orchard for their development Monday Night Garage. The orchard is filled with seasonal fruits and useful plants that help produce the beers brewed on site. They carefully picked fruit species that produce the right types of yeast that can be harvested for use in the fermentation process to eventually produce sour beers.
“The naturally occurring yeast on various fruits gives different types of flavor profiles in the beers,” says Brandy Hall, Shades of Green founder and managing director.
I'm just blown away by the process. There is so much science behind it. It's really cool
The site sits in a post-industrial area and was filled with deep asphalt, compact clay and deep gravel sub-base. The team had to knock out the stone and gravel to get down to a subsoil and begin a soil amending process. After that, the team installed pollinator meadows from seed using species that can grow in depleted soils and still attract pollinators for the fruit production, as well as rain gardens around the orchard. The space sits next to a massive pedestrian trail, so during the build process, Shades of Green readjusted the grade to connect the business to a trail entrance. The location of the project was a big consideration in an already challenging design.
“We do really extensive research on the existing conditions, analyzing what’s happening with the soil, the water, the light, then examine the patterns of people who will naturally use the space. Then, we integrate those so that the design can respond to the existing conditions and to the humans being drawn in,” says Brandy.
The goals and the aesthetics complete these layers. It's really a sight and nature informed process
Monday Night Garage is one of several companies adjacent to the Atlanta Beltline trail. The 26-mile loop used to be a railway corridor until the city began developing it into a multi-use trail. The beltline connects dozens of neighborhoods and has helped spur more than $3.7 billion in economic development. The brewery, as well as many other restaurants, cafés, markets and parks, is accessible by walking, biking and skating.
“The beltline is pretty unique in Atlanta,” says Brandy. “It’s ignited a sort of desire for walkability and bikeability. Atlanta is just the poster child for urban sprawl and has never really been a walkable city. Everyone loves things that decrease the need to sit in traffic though, and the beltline has really kickstarted that goal for Atlantans.”
To build a nearly acre-large commercial space from scratch, Shades of Green had a few weeks and roughly $90,000. Construction on the brewery began in late summer and when crews broke ground, the owners set the date for an opening event one year later. The process stayed on track until a hurricane halted work for several weeks. By the time the interior was completed and the landscape team got started, the opening party was days away. Roughly 10 team members worked day and night to beat the deadline.
“When it came down to the wire to get it built, I felt like I was in my high school drama club again, during production days,” says Brandy. “We had to build all the sets right before a show, and we’d stay up until 2 a.m. sometimes working. It was all hands on deck. Finishing the orchard actually was really fun, but definitely a challenge.”
The project completed successfully, and more than a hundred people celebrated the brewery on opening night. The team still helps consult on project maintenance but says, theoretically, the property will become self-sustaining over time. By design, it will embrace the natural systems and processes, and it will grow into a healthy ecosystem for thousands to enjoy.
About Shades of Green Permaculture
Shades of Green Permaculture is a design, build and education firm that creates regenerative and sustainable outdoor spaces. From its designs to its online classes, Shades of Green believes regenerative landscapes, no matter the size, can have a positive impact on the environment. Shades of Green is a Woman-owned, Certified B Corporation and member of the Sustainable Site Initiatives founded by Managing Director Brandy Hall. For more information, visit us at www.shadesofgreenpermaculture.com or on our instagram @shades_of_green_permaculture.
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