In Richmond, where historical houses and buildings abound, there's always been a high demand for landscape architects who can design beautiful gardens. But recently, homeowners' interests have shifted to more sustainable natural environments.

"There's a tremendous amount of growth and a new interest in the green industry and sustainability," says Cary Jamieson, landscape design program specialist at the School of Continuing Studies. "Homeowners are starting to be very interested in urban farming, organic vegetable gardens, rain gardens, green roofs and native plants."

And that's where Jamieson comes in. Since joining the SCS staff three years ago, she's been developing the curriculum of the Landscape Design Professional Certificate (LDPC) program, which trains anyone interested in a career or promotion in the landscape design industry. Workshops and electives complement the 17 non-credit courses that form the program's core.

"We've been working on building the curriculum to include subjects that are going to make the students more competitive in their field and also try to point them in the direction where the industry is growing," says Jamieson. "It's appealing to a homeowner if someone has the skills to protect a mature tree or design a green roof."

In addition to revising core courses to cover sustainable practices like rain gardens and restoration landscaping, the program has introduced new electives like "Sustainability and Native Plants," "Caring for Woody Plants in Drought Conditions" and "Urban Soils-Arboriculture."

Greg Allen, a Chesterfield County planning administrator who teaches "Introduction to Design" for LDPC, says that the changes to the curriculum put the program "on the front line of where landscape design needs to be," especially as the state introduces new storm water regulations as early as next year.

"Educating students — whether 12 or 25 or 50 years old — about sustainable design should not be a trend," says Allen, who also teaches an enrichment course at a Chesterfield middle school. "[It] should be the foundation from which landscape design is taught and practiced."

Community Education

Beyond the scope of the professional program, Jamieson also works with campus and community partners to offer workshops pertaining to landscaping and sustainability that anyone can take. "Everyone in the Richmond community is starting to talk to each other, starting to work together and collaborate," she says. For SCS, this collaboration brings an opportunity to connect students with local sustainability experts.

During the summer, Jamieson recruited biology professor John Hayden to teach a workshop on organic vegetable gardening. In conjunction with the University Museums' Ansel Adams exhibit this fall, she organized a series of free workshops on topics like "Planting a Tree for Longevity."

Currently in development are workshops with Charles City farmer Amy Hicks, Goochland County-based Backyard Farmer, and Richmond nonprofit Tricycle Gardens. These will be offered next spring, and some will likely be held in the University's community garden. They will be offered through SCS's Think Again catalog.

"With SCS, a lot of the classes and workshops have been designed for adults, but I think some of the traditional undergraduate students are now starting to get interested in some of the subjects and take classes that are non-credit just to learn more about the subject," says Jamieson, mentioning that classes on topics like composting could be offered if students showed interest.

"As the program specialist, I'd love to hear from students, staff and the Richmond community if they have any ideas for classes," she says. "That's what we do at [SCS's] Office of Continuing and Professional Education — we offer classes to the campus and Richmond community in whatever subjects people are interested in. We network with instructors who work in the industry and know the people at the top of the field."