In this presentation from the 2022 AMS Community and Citizen Science Symposium, Michael Ray describes how the Nurse Tree Design citizen science project seeks to mimic biological strategies for mitigating and adapting to temperature extremes in order to protect a raised garden through four seasons in the desert southwest. Extreme weather conditions at the garden site in Tucson Arizona can fluctuate 100 degrees (17 F to 117 F).
A graphic built on a spreadsheet can draw the viewers attention to the sense and substance of weather data, showing how the temperature and rain window for planting and harvesting for a specific grow site is narrowing or expanding.
Michael Ray is a long-time weather watcher. He built his first weather station as a ten year old. He recently retired from his career as a human resource trainer and organization development specialist for the University of Arizona Libraries. He is using his retirement to provide leadership to neighborhood and community groups. In 2015 his interest in weather combined with his neighborhood leadership to help with Building Resilient Neighborhoods, a task force supported by Physicians for Social Responsibility to organize neighborhoods for heat emergencies. That resulted in his turning his imagination and artistic background to the adaptation of his garden to the increasing heat caused by climate change. In 2012 he began a citizen science project to reimaging the greenhouse, given how useless it is most of the year in Tucson, unless you have the income to pay for air conditioning to offset the hot-house on steroids that greenhouses are in the desert environment. This led him to research materials and structures that could adapt to all the seasons of the desert, where temperatures range from a low of 17 F in the January 2013 to a June 2017 high of 116 F . The result is the Nurse Tree Arch (Google it), a convertible “Screen to Greenhouse” structure that used design wisdom from the field of bio-mimicry using desert nurse trees as its inspiration.