Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College


The Learning Garden

The Learning Garden is the vibrant and dynamic place it is today because of the hard work of many students, faculty, and staff over many years. Read our timeline to learn how we put down roots.


  • Welcomed back in-person classes, volunteering, work study, casual staff and visitors to the garden!
  • Purchased BCS walk-behind tractor, the first mechanized tool in the garden’s history.
  • Initiated student project in Geography 280A on inclusive garden mapping for the visually impaired in partnership with Accessible Ed & Disability Resources.
  • Initiated student project in Welding to fabricate wheelchair accessible garden beds using principles of universal design in partnership with Accessible Ed & Disability Resources.


  • Constructed accessible picnic table with moveable benches following universal design principles in ongoing partnership with Accessible Ed & Disability Resources.
  • Helped to form evolving partnership focused on the collaborative stewardship of the wetlands and Oregon white oak woodlands of the Portland Community College Rock Creek Environmental Studies Center (RCESC) with:
    • David G. Lewis, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies, Oregon State University, Member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
    • Bruce Barbarasch, Nature & Trails Manager, Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District
    • Brandon Culbertson, Native Education & Development Coordinator, Terra Nova Science and Sustainability Program, Beaverton School District, Northern Arapaho & Assiniboine Sioux Fort Peck Tribes
    • Nat Andreini & Molly Alloy, Co-Directors, Five Oaks Museum
    • Gabe Sheoships, Executive Director, and Wilson Yee, Board Vice President, Friends of Tryon Creek
    • Linda Fergusson-Kolmes, Biology Instructor, Portland Community College
    • Miriam Latzer, Learning Garden Coordinator, Rock Creek Campus, Portland Community College
    • Tracey Dulin, Water Resources Project Manager, Clean Water Services


  • Formed partnership with Accessible Ed & Disability Resources to improve accessibility in the garden.
  • Suspended all programming due to Covid-19.
  • Continued to maintain garden operations and donated over 2,500 pounds of fruits and vegetables to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry at Juan Diego Church.
  • Worked with ESOL students to highlight family recipes from around the world in the Garden Gossip newsletter.
  • Provided virtual tours of the garden using live stream and recorded video.


  • Completed construction of Picnic Pavilion
  • GIS student created major revision of LG map for Welcome Kiosk in 4 languages
  • Welding student fabricated a large, moveable metal frame for Dia De Los Muertos altar.
  • Collaborated with 43 college courses
  • Engaged 509 K-12 students
  • Recorded 622 total volunteer hours in garden
  • Harvested almost 5,700 pounds of food
  • Redeemed $1139.05 in vouchers at Portlandia FarmStandia in exchange for volunteer hours worked
  • Working in partnership with PCC dining services we began selling extra produce in exchange for $5 cafe vouchers for use by student garden volunteers. In 2019, the garden earned 117 vouchers, at a value of over $575, which students can use to purchase a hot meal in the cafeteria!


  • Awarded $8500 by PCC students’ grant program The Green Initiative Fund to partner with Building Construction Technology department on construction of 18’x24’ Picnic Pavilion
  • Removed 20 failing raised garden beds to double production area with in-ground bed layout
  • Collaborated with 42 college courses
  • Engaged 1294 K-12 students
  • Recorded 941 total volunteer hours in garden
  • Harvested over 5,000 pounds of food
  • Thousands of marigolds grown for Dia De Los Muertos, community visitors came from 3 counties to share in the harvest
  •  Redeemed $788.75 in vouchers at Portlandia FarmStandia in exchange for volunteer hours worked


  • Constructed energy-efficient, DIY, walk-in-cooler using coolbot technology for on-site cold storage of fruits and vegetables
  • Hired a full-time, year-round, permanent Learning Garden Coordinator
  • Collaborated with 59 college courses
  • Engaged 237 K-12 students
  • Recorded 1649 total volunteer hours in garden
  • Harvested over 5,000 pounds of food
  • Redeemed $1,495 in vouchers at Portlandia FarmStandia in exchange for volunteer hours worked


  • Recorded nearly 1700 total volunteer hours in the garden
  • Led 40 tours, and 13 Lunch ‘n Learn workshops
  • Collaborated with 40 college courses
  • Worked with 641 K-12 students from two school districts
  • Received certification as a Bee Campus USA, the fourth in the nation!
  • Revised our Learning Garden logo
  • Celebrated Earth Day 2016 with 36 volunteers putting in 95 hours of work in the garden
  • Harvested over 8,855 pounds of produce
  • Harvested over 180 lbs of Dutch Bucket Hydroponics cucumbers
  • Completed our information kiosk at the entryway to the garden
  • Composted over 13,500 pounds of food waste via the worm bin, worm nursery, metrobin, and geobin systems
  • Sold nearly 7,000 pounds of food
  • Redeemed $3,471 in vouchers at the Portlandia FarmStandia in exchange for volunteer hours worked
  • Donated over 1,460 pounds of fresh produce
  • Selected by New Seasons Market-Orenco Station as their Environmental/Sustainability Bag it Forward partner for August 2016-January 2017
  • Designed and installed Garden entrance signage


  • Constructed two hydroponic systems: a Nutrient Film Technique system and a Dutch Bucket System
  • Built twelve raised beds in the hoop house
  • Started construction of a welcome kiosk at the front of the garden
  • Added bee hives bringing the total to eight with four swarms
  • Launched Volunteer for Veggies, a volunteer reward program in which volunteers earn $5 for each hour worked in the Garden
  • Expanded the orchard to 64 trees producing 12 varieties of fruit
  • Planted and trellised a new fruit field and berry patch
  • Built a worm nursery to ensure long-term, sustainable composting
  • Revised Learning Garden master site plan
  • Video created


  • Added an apple orchard and replanted blueberries in the garden
  • Hired a permanent Sustainability Coordinator.
  • Created a Learning Garden Ambassador within the Office of International Education
  • Added two bee hives to the operation
  • Grew 5,358 pounds of produce
  • Facilitated 32 tours of our closed-loop system (Rocket Composter, worm bin, garden, and more)
  • Engaged 24 courses in the garden with over 1,000 student contact hours
  • Piloted a farm stand as another way to get fresh produce – and education about it – to the campus community
  • Flowergrams were delivered around campus, raising over $400 to advance initiatives and support students in the garden


  • Hired the first Garden Coordinator food production operations
  • Developed the garden’s first formal crop plan for the cafeteria
  • Hired our first AmeriCorps member with primary responsibility for informal sustainable food and agriculture education in the garden
  • Added two work-study positions to support operations in the garden
  • Involved the campus childcare center by planting and maintaining a garden plot specifically designed for teaching children about growing food
  • Grew 2,608 pounds of produce


  • Constructed additional raised beds
  • Formed a partnership with Beaverton School District in which land was provided adjacent to the Learning Garden for high school students to use with half of the food grown on this plot contributed to the Rock Creek cafeteria
  • Issued a call for art in the garden to students resulting in the purchase of several pieces of art. Student artists and several classes now have their work permanently installed on campus
  • Purchased two benches for the garden


  • Developed the Learning Garden Master Plan, creating a long-term vision for the space
  • Created an accessible gathering space for students, faculty, staff, and community members
  • Installed permanent solar powered irrigation


  • The first Climate Action Plan was signed by the District President, demonstrating an institutional commitment to supporting sustainability work like that happening at the garden


  • Built an earthen oven made of sand, straw, and mud used for pizza parties, bread making, cookies and more
  • Served food from the garden in the cafeteria for the first time
  • Received a grant funding an AmeriCorps Service member to build a worm compost system reducing food waste on campus
  • Built a cob tool shed
  • Established an organic gardening course using the Garden as a living laboratory


  • Noelle Studer was hired as the first PCC Rock Creek Sustainable Practices Coordinator. Noelle not only integrated sustainability into the culture at PCC, but also laid the groundwork for the Learning Garden.
  • Karen Cox, a Portland State University graduate student wrote her thesis on transformative learning for older generational women through horticulture, titled “Portland Community College Rock Creek Campus Organic Learning Garden: Opportunities For Transformative Learning, Healing, And Hope For The Future.” Her work helped establish the garden as an intentional space. Karen hosted work parties, secured funding to get seeds and install irrigation and lectured in classrooms.