Brought to you by Micco Emeson, the Living Lab Coordinator for Landscape for SSI.
Landscape Maintenance Insights
Wintertime approaches, and so do a plethora of opportunities for landscaping and gardening activities on the OSU campus. Winter is when many perennial plants lie dormant, shedding their leaves and maintaining cellular processes via stored energy reserves which allow them to get through the cold, cloudy winter. This means that it is a good time to plant long lived plants such as fruit trees, native perennials, and berry bushes as the disruption of their fragile root system due to planting will have minimal effect on their growth cycle during this dormant stage. This is also a good time for pruning trees and removing invasive species.
Inconsiderate human development can cause the phenomenon of stormwater pollution due to precipitation which would soak into the earth naturally, but is rerouted by impermeable surfaces. Corvallis receives approximately 40 inches of rain per year, or approximately 3 ft. A 10 square foot section of pavement creates 3 ft x 10 ft2 = 30 cubic feet of stormwater runoff each year. Not only can these flows cause flooding, but stormwater picks up debris, heavy metal contaminants, and other pollutants, escorting them into the nearest surface water. In the case of the OSU Campus, either Oak Creek or Mary’s River, and eventually the Willamette, is the recipient of these fouling agents. This can cause problems for important fish species such as trout salmon, upon which many ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling depend.
Bioswales are features designed to slow the flow of water, decreasing the magnitude of surge events caused by the lack of permeable surfaces, allowing sediments to drop out, heavy metals to bind to soil particles, and water to cool. The OSU Campus hosts numerous bioswales which have been designed to intercept stormwater runoff from parking lots, roofs, and other impervious surfaces. However, these bioswales often experience invasion by plant species such as Himalayan Blackberry.
The Sustainability Office hosts regular work parties to remove invasive species from bioswales and other important areas such as solar arrays to the ensure the functioning of these critical features. Following in suit, the Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) is hiring a Sustainable Landscape Intern to host work parties throughout winter term and into the Spring. They will be responsible for identifying sites requiring maintenance, plan forlogistics such as the acquisition of tools, and then to work with the SSI’s marketing team to get people to these events.
Another project taking place is the installation of a new garden over at Avery Lodge on the Western Edge of Campus on 11th and Madison. The Human Services Resource Center (HSRC), housed in Avery Lodge, provides services to both students and community members experiencing homelessness, as well as financial or food insecurity. A food pantry is run from this building twice a month, which is partially supplied by produce grown by volunteers and staff of the Student Sustainability Initiative. The HSRC has expanded and has moved from Snell Hall to this newly renovated, beautiful building, carrying along with it around 4,000 feet of garden space. The Student Sustainability Initiative is working with University Housing and Dining Services, as well as the Permaculture Design Certification Course, to design and create this space. A cover crop has been planted, and students recently applied copious amounts of leaf mulch and compost to the site for soil building purposes.
This is just a snippet of the exciting things that the SSI has the pleasure of taking part in. If you would like to get involved, email Micco at firstname.lastname@example.org