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Published: Sunday, 8/12/2012

The Garden Beet: Owens Community College’s landscape, turfgrass, and urban agriculture update

BY MATT ROSS
OWENS COMMUNITY COLLEGE FACULTY
Matt Ross. Matt Ross.
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For the past 22 years, students have been getting their hands dirty in the field of horticulture at Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township.

A long list of horticultural professionals from a wide range of career fields including public gardening, landscape design and installation, landscape maintenance operations, golf course and sports turf management, forestry, and the nursery and greenhouse industries have graduated from this hands-on, professional program.

Recently the program has evolved and partnered with Toledo GROWs to provide an educational resource in the field of urban agriculture. In 2011, Owens began offering a 26 credit certificate program where students learn the best management practices for gardening, landscaping, and farming in the city. This new program offers classes in Greenhouse Management, Urban Horticulture and Sustainability, Organic Crop Production, and Urban Livestock, as well as others.

A bed in the Children’s Vegetable Garden at Lafayette Greens in downtown Detroit. A bed in the Children’s Vegetable Garden at Lafayette Greens in downtown Detroit.
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Students are making waves creating Green Roofs, installing Community Gardens, and even helping to build their own college classroom. This blog will follow the student projects, outreach, and educational experience that is changing the lives of community members across northwest Ohio.

A summer filled with tours and activities spanning from observing cutting edge research at Michigan State University to getting a first hand look at the urban revival of Detroit, learning the process of milking and caring for goats in Wayne, Ohio, to creating a new farm in the heart of Toledo was how the summer 2012 student’s enjoyed their summer months in the program.

One of the greatest accomplishment’s they completed during the blistering heat and endless drought we all know as the summer of 2012, was the construction of a half-acre research and farm plot at the newly unveiled Robert J. Anderson Training facility, formerly known as the Oneida Farm located at 900 Oneida St.

Transforming a once desolate, blighted field full of industrial waste that dates back to the mid 1800’s involved weeks of removing former foundation stones and enriching the soil with compost and some innovative bacterial and fungal microbial products. A series of 17 raised planters are filled and labeled with a wide assortment of vegetables for public demonstration of everything from your traditional peppers and tomatoes to peanuts, artichokes, and eggplants from around the world.

Additionally, students were responsible for designing their own small (5’ X 10’) plot where they experimented with concepts such as companion planting, manure trials, and even built a 3’ herb spiral constructed from rubble un-earthed during the grading of the site. The students and Toledo GROWs welcome the public to take a look at this accomplishment that will only continue to improve as the soil and infrastructure develop.

Matt Ross has worked as a faculty member at Owens Community College for the past four years. He teaches landscape turfgrass management.



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