On Tuesday, November 15, 2011, at the Ohlone College Newark Center, over 100 students from Ohlone College Environmental Studies courses transformed the southwest lawn at the back of the campus into a 2,200 sq. ft. Urban Farm Research Lab to celebrate America Recycles Day.
They were joined by employees of Waste Management of Alameda County and WMEarthCare (WMEC) who donated all the materials, in addition to labor, and will be benefiting from the research that Ohlone students will conduct in the lab.
The Urban Farm Research Lab will test performance of various growth media comprised of soil, compost and recycled materials, as well as a soilless blend of recycled materials developed by WMEC. The recycled materials are comprised of local products originally bound for landfills which have been repurposed for use as a growth medium.
Students will collect performance data on the mixtures and the data will be analyzed by WMEC. The students will also grow food in the lab which will be donated to local food banks.
Here's what happened on America Recycles Day:
- Video (time lapse): Ohlone College America Recycles Day event (YouTube)
- The (water-guzzling) lawn was covered with burlap and layers of mulch creating base layers and pathways to create access to the beds and naturally kill turf, which will recycle itself into the soil.
- Student volunteers, faculty supervisors and the WM volunteers assembled 36 6' x 3.6' raised bed planter boxes built Lincoln log-style from recycled redwood. Each of the 36 beds are lined with a geotextile material made of 92% post consumer content, which will naturally hold back growth of the turf or weeds.
- The beds were then layered with Mulch, Compost, and four combinations of Growth Media, including one soilless mixture. (All the materials are provided by WMEC.)
The Urban Farm Research Lab is a fantastic project for Ohlone College partnering with industry, benefitting the community, teaching our students, and putting sustainability to work. It was a long time in the planning and kudos should go out to all the students, faculty, administration, community leaders, and industry partners for putting together such a great project for our campus.
- Urban Farm Research Lab Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Urban Farm Research Laboratory - Environmental Studies Program
- Urban Farm Research Lab at Ohlone College in Collaboration with Waste Management, Ohlone College Press Release, November 22, 2011
- Media Alert: Build an Outdoor Learning Lab to Research Urban Farming on America Recycles Day with Ohlone College and Waste Management
- WM EarthCare (WMEC)
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