Media Alert: Build an Outdoor Learning Lab to Research Urban Farming on America Recycles Day with Ohlone College and Waste Management

2,200 square feet of Property will be Transformed into an Urban Farm and Soil Laboratory for the Study of Recycled Materials as a Growth Medium for Food Production

Assembly of planter box.In a matter of minutes, one person can assemble a WM EarthCare 3′x6′ planter box made from recycled Redwood lumber. Ohlone College students will assemble 36 planter boxes to create the test plots for the Outdoor Learning and Research Lab.


Ohlone College students and Waste Management of Alameda County employees will construct an Outdoor Learning and Research Lab for the study of recycled materials for use as soil in urban agriculture.

The Media is invited to help us build:

Research Lab aka Urban Farm to test use of recycled materials for use as soil/compost in growing food

  • Layout Farm
  • Build 36 raised planter boxes from recycled Redwood planks-3′x6′
  • Fill with soil mixes made of various locally recycled products once destined for landfill!
  • Environmental Studies students at Ohlone College conduct research soils viability for plant growth


  • Tuesday, November 15: America Recycles Day at Ohlone College
  • 9:30am - 10:00am: Kick-off Event with Newark Mayor Dave Smith, College and Community Leaders
  • 10:00am - 12:00pm (noon): Outdoor Lab Construction
  • 12:00pm (noon): Annual Thanksgiving Celebration, hosted by Ohlone College ASOC
Sheet mulching.To create the Outdoor Lab, we will spread a layer of Homegrown Compost, followed by two layers of recycled burlap coffee bags which suppress lawn growth, followed by another layer of compost to nurture new plant growth. A dressing of mulch will complete the conversion. -Photo from UC Berkeley sheet mulching event with WM EarthCare Homegrown Compost.


Ohlone College Newark Center
39399 Cherry Street
Newark, CA 94560
(Map & Directions)


Newark Mayor Dave Smith, Ohlone College, Waste Management and community leaders will join Ohlone College students to construct the new Outdoor Learning and Research Lab.


  • Waste Management
    Karen Stern
    (510) 613-8720
  • Ohlone College
    Professor Narinder Bansal
    (510) 742-2360

Outdoor Learning and Research Lab:

Ohlone College Newark Center expands its Environmental Studies Program by creating an Outdoor Learning and Research Laboratory with the support of Waste Management of Alameda County and WM EarthCare (

Using locally sourced and produced 100% recycled compost and mulch, students will test soil blends for drainage, texture, PH, and nutrients. The test plots will expand upon the existing Bay-Friendly Landscaping which is a prominent feature of the Ohlone College Newark Center.

WM Earthcare mulch varieties.WM EarthCare Soil blends, mulches and compost are comprised of locally generated recycled materials previously destined for landfill, now repurposed for urban farming growth media. WM EarthCare 100% recycled mulch is made from clean lumber debris and pallets. Mulch will be applied last to create pathways between the test plots and complete the sheet mulching in open areas.

The campus already has a small urban farm and this learning laboratory will increase its growing space capacity by three-fold and produce additional crops for a local food pantry and for students.

All the materials for the Outdoor Learning and Research Labs are donated by Waste Management and WM EarthCare. This includes the 36 recycled redwood lumber planter box kits, compost and mulch for the 2,200 square foot sheet mulching project, and the soil blends for the test plots.

Drawing of Research Lab for Urban Farming at Ohlone College Newark Center.Layout for Phase 1 of Research Center for Urban Farming at Ohlone College Newark Center. View enlarged. -By Geoffrey Katz.

Work Project Breakdown:

On Tuesday, November 15, America Recycles Day this is a breakdown of the work project.

10:00am Work Project Begins:

  • Sheet Mulching
    • Move Compost from Roll-off Bins
    • Distribute Base Compost
    • Layout Recycled Burlap Bags
    • Distribute Top Coat Compost
  • Planter Boxes
    • Build Planter Boxes
    • Install Box Liners
    • Fill Boxes with Growth Media
  • Pathways
    • Spread Mulch for pathways and final sheet mulching coat