Rock Creek Campus Sustainability
Elaine Cole, Rock Creek Sustainable Practices Coordinator
The Rock Creek Loop
We grow produce for the cafeteria on site in our Rock Creek Learning Garden. We harvest our produce and take it to the Rock Creek Cafeteria. There the cafeteria staff incorporate the produce into daily meals. The staff harvests their pre-consumer waste, it is then it is taken to our worm bin onsite. There we compost our pre-consumer waste, harvest our compost and return it to our garden. That’s the loop.
Our Rocket Composter
All our post-consumer waste is sorted , between compostable and non-compostable. Rock Creek has two pieces of equipment one is called the insinkerator, which is a grinding piece of equipment, actually a garbage disposal. It chips service ware and food waste to the same size component. The returned product is macerated and de-watered and fed into the Rocket Composter.
The Rocket Composter is our onsite, accelerated, post-consumer. It is the fourth of its kind in the United States. The first to be used for the purpose we are using if for. We are the only Rocket user to compost our compostables on campus. There are four stages of heating; one 160 °F, one 110, one 80 and one 60. Inside the machine is an actual auger that turns every hour. Every five days we are able to harvest a rich compost. This compost is used by the Rock Creek Grounds department. This is accelerated composting, running on merely 12 Kilowatts of power every week.
Rock Creek's worm bin is thriving! Worm compost is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by red wiggler worms. Worm compost is a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. The Rock Creek worms are fed by coffee grounds and food stuffs from the cafeteria! The end product organic fertilizer is used in the Organic Garden. For more information about this unique program, contact campus coordinator, Elaine Cole.
Rock Creek Environmental Studies Center
The Rock Creek Environmental Studies Center is a natural area on Portland Community College's Rock Creek Campus. The RCESC is a natural area within the Rock Creek Campus that is considered to be an important natural history area by both the Portland Audubon Society and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It includes about 44 acres of woodland, 11 acres of wetland and 44 acres of grasslands. Several smaller unique ecosystems are also present, including several springs and a small pond ecosystem. The Center is not only an important living laboratory to the Rock Creek students, but is open to school groups and the public.
Rock Creek has a comprehensive recycling program comprised of centralized "waste stations". Just recently, the campus added new outdoor waste stations made from 100% recycled plastic lumber. To participate in the recycling outreach and education program, contact Elaine Cole.
Recycle old cell phones and help domestic violence victims at the Women's Resource Center in Building 2, Room 103.
The Green Team
The Rock Creek Green Team meets the first Friday of every month at 2pm in the TLC. Show your support for sustainability and join us in this meeting! For more information contact Elaine Cole.
Mug Days at Rock Creek are back! Every Tuesday from 9am-11am in Building 3, Room 128, bring your own mug and receive free coffee, tea and cocoa. If you have forgotten your mug, you can rent one for $1.00. Proceeds from Mug Days go toward the further development of PCC Sustainability. For more information contact Elaine Cole.
The Rock Creek Organic Learning is managed by our Environmental Services Coordinator, Elaine Cole. The garden features composting bins and a sustainably designed straw bale tool shed. Food from the garden provides a partial supply for the cafeteria and also is donated to local Washington County charities. Pre-school children, Community-Based Learning students, classes, staff, faculty and students all participate. As a bonus for helping, take home a little harvest when there is some.
Organic Gardening Class
Every spring Organic Gardening Instructor, Kevin Lien has his class doing hands on learning about soil structures and functions, the soil food web, composting, and the basics of biogeochemical cycling. Students learn basic plant anatomy, how to grow plants, flowers, and vegetables in the Pacific Northwest as well as pruning and grafting.
In 2006, the Building Construction Department under the supervision of Spencer Hinkle, built PCC Rock Creek's first Earthen Oven. Our Earthen Oven is made of sand, straw and mud. This oven can get up to 700 degrees and maintain an average temperature of 450 degrees for 3-4 hours. In the oven we cook pitas, pizza and cookies. The oven is located in the Learning Garden, across from Building 9. If you would like more information, or just to take a tour of the oven please contact Elaine Cole.
In Spring 2008, Ceramics Instructor Jim Johnstone had his Ceramics I and II classes' create something aesthetically pleasing for the Learning Garden as their final project. They were immensely successful!! Upon installation of this project, there are 25 different and equally beautiful ceramic sculptures that are on top of our fence posts that fence in the Learning Garden. Below is one of the many sculptures that Ceramics I and II created last spring. Thanks to Jim Johnstone and both of his Ceramic's classes for providing such a beautiful accent to our garden!!