Remediation of an Indiana brownfield: a student immersive learning experience.
Over five years a former auto salvage yard in Indiana was transformed from an unsightly and hazardous brownfield to an urban green space by student teams from Ball State University, Muncie, IN. The project assessed the feasibility of selected turf species for recolonization of barren and potentially toxic soil. This was followed by a phased design and implementation plan for the space, providing different stages of rehabilitation. Subsequently, a range of activities was conducted in the field including debris removal, eradication of invasive vegetation, installation of a clay cap and soil cover to several acres, planting turf grass and ornamental trees on capped areas, creation of small prairies, and installation of a hiking trail. Students gained academic credit for an 'immersive learning activity' that incorporated site assessment, data analysis, site planning, and map preparation using computer-aided design, as well as intensive field work. Similar applications of the reported restoration project may be applied to brownfields in other cities, potentially creating a series of spatially- or thematically-connected park spaces out of formerly unusable land.