Graham Farm + Nature Center

Initiated Spring 2019

Faculty Rob Holmes

Students Natalia Almonacid, Alex Anderson, Alejandro Ramos Alban, Amanda Fonte, Biying He, Yubo Liu, Aaron Nell, Jessica Nielsen, Andres Orjuela Parra, Christian Ossenfort, Yi Zhu

Graham Farm and Nature Center is currently in the process of transitioning from private ownership and use to public operation. This transition presents a number of opportunities that the Alabama Lab aimed to assist GFNC with. First, the transition requires new physical infrastructure: existing facilities may need to be upgraded, and new facilities may need to be added to support future uses. We looked at design options to meet these physical needs. 

Second, GFNC is in the process of cultivating an audience for its services. We looked at the potential users GFNC may have in the future, assessing opportunities for GFNC to serve the audiences ACES has already identified as well as potential additional audiences. This identification of audiences fed back into our first effort, as we studied what physical landscape needs different audiences may have. 

Finally, landscape architects are good at visualizing how landscapes might be used in the future. We have used this capacity to make images that can help show potential stakeholders, funders, donors, and users what Graham Farm might become, helping to demonstrate its value and why it is worth investing in. Our hope is that this document can support the efforts of ACES to leverage the existing assets of Graham Farm and build a robust set of facilities that can support research, education, and conservation well into the 21st century. 

These opportunities fit well into the larger objectives of the Alabama Lab, particularly our interest in investigating how landscape architecture can provide value to the issues and situations that characterize rural landscapes, both now and in the future. Graham Farm provides an opportunity to invest in those futures directly, through the work of ACES on the Farm, and a specific site to ground larger regional concerns in, such as the future shape of North Alabama’s rural economy, the role of small landowners in agriculture, and the relationship between agriculture and conservation in the context of ongoing economic and ecological change.

The Alabama Lab would like to thank the ACES staff of Graham Farm and Nature Center, including Themika Sims, Donna Sands, and Noah Bowling, for their generous engagement with and support of the students, which not only permitted this product to emerge but produced a deep, rich, and valuable learning experience for our students.

We would also like to thank our fellow faculty and various review critics who contributed insight at various stages during the project. Finally, we would like to acknowledge Bob Head, who was generous in discussing farm and family history with students.

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