Fine gardening and landscape construction projects enhance campus life
Students and faculty in the Landscape Horticulture program at Dakota County Technical College have been busy completing fine gardening and landscape construction projects that beautify the campus while creating sanctuaries designed for relaxation, contemplation, socializing, teaching and studying.
The Hort Court Garden, located adjacent to the Landscape Horticulture labs and classrooms in the southwest section of the main building, received recent upgrades, including a new water feature and flagstone patio. Jeff Kleinboehl, the instructor who teaches construction courses in the program, emphasizes the importance of real-world projects that not only give his students hands-on experience, but also produce enduring improvements to the campus that can be shared by everyone at the college.
“The little old pond we had out there was a maintenance problem,” said Jeff, whose students also installed the flagstone patio in the spot once occupied by the pond. “I bought a medium-size, pondless waterfall kit last spring with the intent of having my Construction II students install the waterfall this fall. Lot of digging and rock work, but I have been getting rave reviews from students, staff and faculty. We spent a total of nine hours working on the project.”
Hort Court Garden
Michelle Wells, a sophomore in the Landscape Horticulture program, worked on the waterfall and patio projects. Michelle is taking advantage of the program’s broad curriculum. She’s earning an A.A.S. degree as well the Professional Gardening and Sustainable Food Systems certificates. She welcomed the opportunity to participate in landscape projects that will be enjoyed by people for years to come.
“We watched videos about waterfall installations,” Michelle said, “and designed how we wanted the waterfall to look. We then dug a hole for the pump and brought in the big rocks for the project. I’m looking forward to a career in a municipal parks department—and projects like this provide great work experience.”
Catherine Grant teaches the Professional Gardening courses in the program. Her students will install the planting around the waterfall yet this fall. They also just installed 550 grasses and perennials around the DCTC electronic sign on County Road 42 and Akron. “We love doing fine gardening work on campus,” Catherine said. “We’ve done several projects over the last year or so, including new plantings by the main front entrance, the east entrance, the west parking lot median and the monument signs out front. Beautifying the campus benefits everyone at DCTC—and fine gardens do not depreciate, but become more beautiful every year.”
DCTC campus fall 2014
The Landscape Horticulture program also operates a sizable sustainable garden on the south side of the campus that serves as a lab area for the Sustainable Food Systems certificate. Matt Brooks teaches courses for the certificate as well as courses focused on landscape design.
“Sustainable living appeals to a population that ranges from urban gardeners to organic framers to lifelong learners seeking a more healthful lifestyle,” Matt said. “The Sustainable Food Systems certificate provides leading-edge information on a mode of agriculture that is gaining popularity in Minnesota and around the world.”
The upside of campus gardens…
Gardens, both botanical and edible, create several advantages for the college and its surrounding communities. Significant objectives for any college can be achieved through the serenity, beauty and scientific wealth provided by fine gardens, including:
- Enhancing student recruitment and retention
- Strengthening faculty and staff morale
- Attracting area residents to the campus
- Creating welcoming and peaceful meeting places and study areas
- Producing local produce through an urban agriculture program with a focus on landscape design aesthetics
- Partnering with a local farmers’ market to bring community members on campus
- Providing an interpretive teaching center on the natural world to inform and inspire students in DCTC science classes, students from area schools and community members
- Forging partnerships with area businesses, particularly landscape design firms, retail garden centers and wholesale nurseries, but other corporations as well
- Forging partnerships with other arboretums to expand knowledge and professional networks
- Engaging national and regional foundations focused on environmental enrichment and community outreach
- Building powerful bonds with alumni
- Providing educational opportunities through access to a master-planned sustainable landscape
- Creating revenue streams as a desirable site for weddings, business meetings, anniversaries, family reunions and more
- Serving as an attractive outdoor location for spring commencement
- Boosting the status of the existing Landscape Horticulture program by offering strong learning and professional opportunities
- Establishing a growable resource that only gains value over time to ultimately emerge as a priceless gift to posterity
DCTC campus fall 2014
For more photos: Visit DCTC on Flickr