The Newfields horticulture staff follows a number of sustainable practices on the campus, including:
- Landscape design using groundcovers and plantings to reduce seasonal change-outs
- Reduction of horticulture waste by composting, which is then used on campus
- An integrated pest management system, which lessens the dependence on harmful chemicals
- A green roof atop the parking garage, creating more green space and absorption of rainwater
- Use of LED landscape lighting, which saves energy and reduces light pollution
- Re-use of scrap stone from Museum expansion for walls and walks
- Organic methods for the orchard and vegetable garden
- Greenhouse renovations improved heating, cooling, and other operational efficiencies
- A public recycling program for plastic and clay pots at Newfields Greenhouse
A sustainable, natural solution to a common problem in urban areas, rain gardens capture and filter storm water runoff from asphalt parking lots that would otherwise flow into nearby waterways, carrying petroleum products and other pollutants with it. Planted in 2009 and designed with both functionality and aesthetic appeal in mind, the Newfields rain garden is formed by a shallow depression in the soil, planted with three levels of native and non-native plants. Plants tolerant of wet conditions grow at the lowest level. Drought-tolerant plants are located at the highest. The garden was made possible by a grant from the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District, along with the Hoosier Heartland Resource Conservation & Development Council.
The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres
Fairbanks Park, opened in 2010, is one of the largest art and nature parks in the country. Its creation allowed Newfields to preserve 100 acres of green space in the heart of Indianapolis for public enjoyment and as a habitat for wildlife. The land, a former gravel pit, evolved through natural reclamation into its current state of untamed woodlands, wetlands, and a 35-acre lake. Newfields engaged architect Marlon Blackwell and landscape architect Edward L. Blake to work with artists to transform the 100 acres into an unparalleled art park. Additionally, the Newfields’ Horticulture staff removed invasive species from the site and incorporated native plants into the landscape. Fairbanks Park lies along the Central Canal Towpath, a 5-mile pedestrian and bike path which runs from 30th Street northeast toward the neighborhood of Broad Ripple and connects to additional bike paths leading to downtown Indianapolis.