The Beauty of Green
DCTC explores new sustainability concepts for Rosemount campus
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability is “based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”
For Dakota County Technical College, that simple principle is unfolding through the Beauty of Green Initiative, which focuses on the college’s main campus in Rosemount, Minn. Situated on County Road 42, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Minnesota, the 177.13-acre campus is an unharnessed asset. Blessed with hundreds of mature trees, both deciduous and coniferous, rolling lawns, and a 22-acre prairie grass and wildflower restoration zone, the campus is made to order as the launching pad for a sustainability initiative centered on establishing an arboretum, botanical garden and permaculture/urban agriculture center with community outreach core components.
DCTC and the University of Minnesota have opened discussions about collaborating on plans for community gardens, tree nurseries, an arboretum, wetland restoration, urban agriculture and related activities on UMore Park property and the DCTC campus. The two institutions visualize the collaboration as wholly expansive with complementary enhancements the key to success.
With the projected growth of both Dakota County and the city of Rosemount, including the university’s Master Planned Sustainable Community at UMore Park, the proposed Vermillion Highlands Greenway and the very real possibility of building a YMCA on the DCTC Rosemount campus, the idea of collaboratively creating an arboretum, botanical garden and permaculture/urban agriculture center at the county’s geographic center gets greener by the minute.
An initiative of this magnitude has conspicuous strategic implications. Fortunately, an officially accredited arboretum, Minnesota-centric botanical garden, and groundbreaking permaculture/urban agriculture center align with DCTC Strategic Goals, specifically:
- Goal 3: Engagement: Dakota County Technical College will increase opportunities for its students and employees to participate in service learning, sustainability, and civic engagement activities at the local, regional, national and global levels.
Doubly beneficial, the Beauty of Green Initiative also supports two related Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system office goals:
- Support regional vitality by contributing artistic, cultural and civic assets that attract employees and other residents seeking a high quality of life.
- Develop each institution’s capacity to be engaged in and add value to its region.
DCTC Institutional Advancement Strategic Goals are also advanced in line with Goal 1.5: Increase DCTC’s presence in internal and external communities.
As each new project unfolds, community engagement and outreach will be priorities as will developing sustainable concepts designed to achieve SITES certification. One vital step in the overall process is creating a Sustainable Campus Master Plan that illustrates in detail the long-term vision for establishing a botanical wonderland on campus. Potential genesis projects are outlined in the Beauty of Green Initiative 2012 Prospectus (see below).
Getting with the programs
Numerous academic programs at the college will benefit from expanding and enhancing the main campus sustainability imprint, including Landscape Horticulture, Civil Engineering Technology, Architectural Technology, Interior Design, Photography, Entrepreneurship/Small Business and more. All members of the college—students, staff and faculty—will gain from having a more beautiful, sustainable and engaging campus. Student recruitment and retention will also stand to benefit substantially as does the college’s profile in the community.
As a way to get things rolling, Matt Brooks, a member of the Landscape Horticulture program faculty, drew up a proposal, Productive Landscapes for a Sustainable Future, for creating an active learning environment for teaching advanced sustainable and productive landscape practices. Brooks proposes redeveloping the area south of the LAHT wing, which is currently used as a collection site for hedge plots, flowerbeds and wood construction projects, as a lab area and demonstration gardens based on 10 established sustainable design principles. The project got underway fall 2012. (Click image on left to read full proposal.)
Brooks and his fellow instructors, Jeff Kleinboehl and Catherine Grant, believe alternative, holistic landscape systems are becoming more and more important in the quest to protect the environment while improving the human condition.
The LAHT program’s enhanced, innovative approach to design and craftmanship reflects the accelerating change taking place throughout the green industry. The new curriculum will overlap permaculture education, which emphasizes developing self–sustaining systems that accomplish the following objectives:
- Capture and store energy
- Obtain a yield
- Produce no waste
- Function on multiple levels
- Restore the health of our ecosystems
- Create a more equitable society
To learn more about the Beauty of Green, check out the project’s 2012 prospectus:
For more info about the DCTC Rosemount Campus Initiative: The Beauty of Green, contact:
- Chris Hayes
Grants and Sustainability Coordinator