The SSI has worked with numerous student groups and campus departments in order to put on a variety of sustainable landscaping projects. In 2015, SSI helped to install a Permaculture Garden at the Pride Center.
In 2016, projects included establishment of a Pollinator Garden over by Linus Pauling, a tree planting on 14th st, and the establishment of a Food Forest by the Student Experience Center.
Both the pollinator Garden and the Tree planting were part of the Center for Civic Engagement's "Earth Day of Service". The pollinator garden project was made possible through a partnership between Campus Landscaping, the Forestry Department, the Horticultural Department and the SSI. The tree planting was put on as part of OSU's Tree Campus USA membership.
The Food Forest, located directly adjacent to the Student Experience Center, is designed, built, and maintained by students. During the Fall term of 2015, the Student Sustainability Initiative partnered with the Permaculture Design Certification Course to design the space. The students assessed site constraints such as solar exposure, soil quality, people flow, and various other factors. This analysis informed the design of the space.
Various constraints were considered such as University requirements for aesthetics and accessibility, and historic district regulations for the height of free-standing features such as the raspberry trellis. Fire lanes also imposed restrictions on the site. Additionally, various utilities located on the site include a manhole, 3 electrical access boxes, a drain, and various other access ports.
Located adjacent to handicap parking spaces, accessibility is a key feature of this garden. That is why there are compacted gravel pathways dsesigned to provide a hard, flat non-slip surface for folks with mobility issues. These allow access to plants in the interior of the space which would otherwise be inaccessible from the pavement. The raspberry trellis is located adjacent to the pathway to allow for easy picking, and the raised bed containing strawberries is at an optimal height for wheelchair users and folks who may have difficulty stooping to the ground.
During winter and fall terms of 2016 the space was altered to conform to the design. Three separate work parties were planned and coordinated by a small committee of students. After obtaining a project grant from the SSI, these students worked closely with the SSI’s Landscape Project’s Coordinator to design and build this unique landscaped space.
The successful implementation of this garden shows that even small, marginally suitable spaces can produce high quality produce when the space is well designed and thoroughly maintained. While such intensive maintenance may not be feasible for every bit of landscaping at OSU, there are opportunities to dedicate some spaces currently reserved to traditionally aesthetic landscape features to more engaging and useful spaces such as edible gardens, as long as there are students dedicated to caring for the space.
Sustainable Landscaped Areas on the OSU Campus