The south side of the Center for Environmental Education (CEE) just got a serious new ‘do with the completion of a long-awaited hard-and-softscaping project.
According to facility manager Carob Arnold, the improvements include the clearing of several trees, the restoration of old stone walls, application of new loam, grass seeding, and the addition of a second-story deck and staircase leading down to the newly-cleared area.
The CEE is Chewonki’s hub & home for several programs including the Outdoor Classroom, Traveling Natural History and the Elementary School, not to mention our legendary finback whale skeleton.
The work moved through several stages this spring and fall, including tree removal, brush chipping, hardscaping, and re-seeding. In particular, masterful tractor work by Dale Wright (“an artist with an excavator,” according to Arnold) provided new and restored stone walls, pathways, and an island of exposed glacial stone in the middle of what will become a lush new grassy field.
The biggest beneficiaries of the new space will be the girls camp and elementary school, both of which will make heavy use of the new clearing when their respective programs are in session.
Explore the new terrain from Google Streetview:
“It’s funny,” says Arnold, “Even though we have huge amounts of lawn here at Chewonki, there are still times in the year when we still don’t have enough.” Indeed, at peak times, residential Maine Coast Semester students, visiting school groups, elementary classes, and the usual crowd of visitors, alumni, and staff all zealously claim patches of clear turf – the happy side effect for an organization dedicated to getting outside.
Arnold is maintaining a “wait and see” approach to how the new area is ultimately used. “It will be interesting to see what gets used more, the shaded tree zones with low brush, the sunny spots with brush, or on top of the stones,” says Arnold.
At a minimum, the new clearing is a boon for the building itself. Long covered by leafy shade, the south-facing solar panels on the CEE can expect a boost to their electrical output.
With fresh grass seed barely in place, Arnold has already moved on to more ambitious projects. “In the future, I would love to come back and open up that big spine of ledge,” he says, pointing to a 30-foot moss-encrusted slab of natural granite that wraps the western edge of the clearing. “It’s a natural play-space and shows the real character of this land.”