Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 73.12
Liaison Jenny McNamara
Submission Date Feb. 21, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Portland State University
ER-T2-2: Organic Garden

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.25 / 0.25 Heather Spalding
Sustainability Leadership and Outreach Coordinator
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an on-campus garden where students are able to gain organic farming and/or gardening experience?:

A brief description of the garden:

PSU has a variety of gardens that fit the description requested for this credit.

Community Garden - The Community Garden holds forty-eight student spaces that are allocated to individual students who live in PSU's residence halls. The garden features a variety of community areas which include a large wheelchair-accessible plot, a native plant demonstration, and a sandbox for children. The garden coordinators have also implemented a successful three-step composting system and organize a variety of garden workshops.

Native Garden – The Environmental Club has managed a native garden since the 1990s. The garden strip runs along an entire city block and is located next to a well-used sidewalk. The garden features plants that are found in Oregon, a nurse log, signage indicating the names of most plants, a dry streambed, and a nurse log with mosses.

Learning Garden – The Learning Garden Laboratory (LGL) is a 12-acre garden education site located in Southeast Portland that provides K-12, university students and community members hands-on and place-based education in sustainable gardening, healthy nutrition, and permaculture. Education at LGL supports improved academic achievement, leadership development, and the development of sustainable local food systems. Established in 2005, LGL exists as a unique partnership between Portland State University, Portland Public Schools, Portland Parks and Recreation, and Oregon State University Extension Service.

The Learning Gardens Lab serves as model of community-based education focused on a hands-on and practical learning tool: the garden. Through garden-based education and outreach, this site serves Lane Middle School students, PSU students, SUN Program participants, Community Transition School students, OSU Extension Service horticulture students and Master Gardeners, and more.

Graduate students enrolled in Portland State University’s Leadership in Ecology, Culture and Learning (LECL) Program facilitate weekly garden-based science curriculum for Lane Middle School students in collaboration with our science teacher partners from Lane. Over 200 Lane Middle School students from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds receive instruction each week; they learn through direct, hands-on experience the process of growing and harvesting food, the science of cooking with whole foods, and the importance of good nutrition and eating habits. Perhaps most importantly, students learn to appreciate the interconnection and complexity of our natural world.

Graduate Assistants from the LSE program also coordinate a Multicultural Family Learning Garden for Lane Middle School families who are learning to grow their own food. In addition, PSU Graduate Assistants and interns harvest produce from LGL and deliver it to Lane Middle School where it is distributed to families who need it through our partnership with the Lane SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) School. PSU also offers senior Capstone service-learning classes in partnership with LGL including Environmental Education through a Native American Lens, Grant Writing for the Environment, Sustainable Food Systems, and Learning Gardens and Civic Affairs. Additionally, many PSU courses require Community-Based Learning and our site is one where these volunteer hours can be fulfilled. In addition to these educational opportunities, our partners from Oregon State University’s Extension Service demonstrate sustainable, organic gardening techniques at LGL through the Organic Gardening Certification Program, and train and mentor students from the Community Transition Center, a Portland Public School on site, in horticulture.

Permaculture Demonstration Garden – At the southwest corner of Smith Student Union, students maintain a demonstration garden which includes an herb spiral, berry bushes, strawberries, and signage. The area also features a cob oven and structure. These projects were started by students and were the first natural building structures on campus. Constructed mostly of cob and refurbished local materials, a cob oven, and a dome shelter with an eco-roof. The purpose of the structure is to build community and encourage conversations about sustainability.

Native American Student and Community Center (NASCC) - This rooftop garden highlights native medicinal plants with ethnobotanical connections indigenous communities. Signage highlights traditional uses of native plants.

Oak Savanna - South of Science Research and Teaching Center, the Savanna includes 5 oak trees and one pine tree. Additionally, the space is home to native plants which include camas, lupine, grasses, poppies, and yarrow. The space is used as an educational classroom and includes a small meeting area comprised of tree stumps.

Explore PSU's new outdoor Green Lab at Shattuck Hall
The new garden known as the Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza at the corner of SW Broadway and College Street is a perfect place to sit on a sunny afternoon, but there’s a lot more to this outdoor space than meets the eye.

This outdoor research laboratory is home to two separate scientific experiments: a series of vertical growing systems ("living walls") and a steep-sloped green roof.

The vertical growing systems, set at different angles around the southern end of the Plaza, were designed and built by students in the Department of Architecture and the Green Building Research Lab. The walls were outfitted with several planting and irrigation systems by local firms, including Solterra, Nevue Ngan and Tournesol. Through a $40,000 grant from Metro, the regional government agency, and support from PSU, monitoring equipment powered by solar arrays are collecting data to research water usage, storm-water management, temperature and other important factors. Metro’s goal is to utilize and share this research as part of their continuing efforts to promote low-impact development practices throughout the Portland region. What's more, the data collected by the equipment will soon be made available on the Plaza's web site.

The experimental steep-sloped green roof at the northern end of the Plaza is a testing model that will inform the design and planting of a much larger steep-sloped green roof to be built atop the new Oregon Zoo Conservation Discovery Zone. Designed and built by PSU architecture and Green Building Research Lab students, the model in the Plaza features three bays, each with a different sub-structure. One is a steel terrace system designed by PSU students, another includes a commercial-grade substrate, and a third has soil only. A flow meter will provide information about water runoff, absorption and trans-evaporation of each system. The goal is to identify the system that retains plants and soil and allows for maximum absorption and minimal storm-water runoff. This test roof will be monitored for approximately two years before construction of the full-scale building begins.

The Plaza is enhanced by demonstration gardens featuring drought-resistant native and non-native plants, pervious cobblestone paving and innovative seating created by PSU architecture students. Stop by to see these experiments in progress!

The website URL where information about the garden is available:

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