Learning Gardens Laboratory to have Earth Day celebration

The Learning Gardens Laboratory, a Portland State community partner, will be holding its second annual Earth Day celebration this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Learning Gardens Laboratory, a Portland State community partner, will be holding its second annual Earth Day celebration this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be held in the garden located at 6801 SE 60th Ave. 

The Learning Gardens Laboratory (LGL) is a 12-acre community garden that exists as an active partnership between PSU, Portland Public Schools (PPS), the City of Portland Parks and Recreation and Oregon State University’s Extension Service.  

PSU graduate students participating in the Leadership for Sustainability Education Program offer garden-based education to over 200 Lane Middle School students each week. The Lane Middle School students who are part of the education program not only learn sustainable gardening techniques, but also have the opportunity to reserve a plot in the Lane Family Garden.

Produce that is cultivated in the other LGL gardens—a wide variety of fruits, herbs and vegetables—is donated to local Portland food banks. According to the LGL website, over 1,600 pounds of food were donated last year. 

According to PSU post-baccalaureate student and LGL site manager Megan Jensen, the Earth Day event will feature activities and entertainment for both children and adults.  The LGL festival’s various children’s activities include coloring eggs with natural plant dyes and a craft station for kids to create their own garden decorations out of recycled materials.  

For adults, there will be several classes taught by LGL master gardeners, including workshops on native medicinal plants and growing and cooking Asian herbs. LGL’s community partners will also have tables available for guests who want to learn more about the work being done at the garden.  

“[LGL] is a really good example of a well-functioning community partnership because so many different community partners are invested in the site and they maintain it together,” Jensen said. 

In addition to the crafts and workshops, there will be live local bluegrass and folk music, free food and garden tours. Jensen said that the celebration is open to the entire community and is completely free.  

“This [celebration] is about building community and sharing the great work that’s being done at LGL and to get people interested in it,” she said.  

LGL was originally called the Green Thumb Site and was established in the 1960s for PPS’s horticulture program. LGL, as it’s now known, was launched in 2005. According to Jensen, one of the main goals of the garden is to educate community members and students about gardening, sustainability and community food security.  

“We want everyone who visits the site to learn something about gardening,” she said. 

PSU students can volunteer at LGL to fulfill the volunteer service credit requirements for community-based learning classes, as well as take one of the many senior capstone service-learning classes that the garden offers in partnership with PSU. 

PSU will also be having its own on-campus celebration in honor of Earth Day on Friday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the South Park Blocks. According to volunteer coordinator Kirk Rea, there will be live music from local bands, as well as art from Portland artists. There will also be free food, seed plantings and tables representing some of PSU’s student groups and community partners.  

Mostly student volunteers organize the on-campus Earth Day celebration, with some support from PSU staff. Rea commented that Earth Day is important for PSU to recognize because sustainability and environmental friendliness are important factors in developing a healthy community. 

“There’s a lot of good work that’s being done on our campus and in the community in terms of working with sustainability,” Rea said. “This festival is a way to celebrate the work that we’ve all been doing.” ?