Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access


Environmental Studies

Faculty Mentor

Denise Finney

Second Faculty Mentor

Patrick Hurley


Presented during the 24th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2022 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

This project develops protocols to assess changes in soil properties associated with the transformative land management strategy employed by the Ursinus College Food Forest (UCFF) at the Whittaker Environmental Research Station. The UCFF seeks to transform an herbaceous pasture to a forested system characterized by long-lived woody species. The protocol supports the study of soil biological communities as well as physical and chemical properties of the soil. Drawing on an interdisciplinary approach, the project first used a soil ecology sampling methodology to develop a baseline that can be used to track changes in soil characteristics below-ground through comparison of future sampling efforts and to inform environmental education about associated soil transformations and create a comparative baseline for future sampling at the UCFF. Beyond providing a baseline for future sampling, this project enables initial mapping of the below-ground root structures that support educational information about this often-overlooked ecosystem component. Second, these results informed an artistic approach to visualizing these complex dynamics that support outreach and education of the Ursinus College and wider Collegeville-Trappe communities. Here, wild clay samples were harvested from the site and processed to assess the usability in a planned art installation. Together, the project helps characterize and quantify the long-term impact of land management on soil, allowing for soil-specific visualizations and related experiences for visitors to the site. By using both artistic and scientific methods to demonstrate the land transformation, this project is able to reach a broader community from various disciplines through the multiple mediums used.


Available to Ursinus community only.