Friday, January 26, 2007

Environmental Horticulture

I wanted to show you where I spend a great deal of my time these days- the Environment Horticulture Department. I'm taking 4 classes this semester- 3 at night and 1 on Saturday. We'll start with these greenhouses behind the classroom building. The EH department has been around for a long, long time. It's very currently very underfunded, and the instructors regularly buy school supplies out of their own funds. But most of the instructors were also students at one time, and seem to really love their job, and feel like it's part of their opportunity to give back to the community. The EH department is geared to the vocational opportunities that are present in San Francisco, namely urban garden and landscape design, construction and maintenence, plant propagation and nursery management. Every class is geared to educate you about the specific and unique conditions that we deal with here in the Bay Area, such as our diverse micro-climates, rainy/dry seasons, the fact that we have no real winter, and the bizarre soil conditions in our back yards.

Here are 2 photos of our larger Lathe House, where plants grow in filtered sunlight. The plants that are propagated in the greenhouses and mature here in the lathe houses are used around the campus, in class projects or are sold at the annual plant bazaar to fund the program.

This is the organic veggie garden. It's not really veggie growing season right now, except for the perenial herbs, the purple chinese mustard and this gorgeous bed of Rainbow chard. Yum yum!

Now onto my Landscape Construction class, where I spend Saturdays, all day, learning to mix concrete, build forms, pour concrete, and lots of other fun, back-breaking work! But really, I LOVE this class! I've learned all kinds of things like how to drive a Bobcat, use a big reciprocating saw, and jackhammer too!

Here we have a view of our department raised beds, where we grow cut flowers for our floristry department to uses. In the foreground are pile of building materials for our construction classes.

This is the formal garden. Construction classes of the past have poured and stamped the concrete walkways, and last semester our class began laying in drip irrigation and sealing the backs of the retaining walls. This semester we will stucco the walls, finish the brick work, and build 2 gates.

These are a set of winding concrete steps we built. There were old railroad ties here that had to be demolitioned. We built the retaining walls, a floating form and pour a zillion loads of concrete to fill the steps. Towards the end, we were going to run out of cement (did I mention underfunded?) so we started pilfering chunks of old concrete we had demo'ed and throwing them in the form, just to take up space, so our precious remaining concrete would fill the form and we could be finished with the job! It was hilarious and amazing that we made it work, and we felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was done...

Last but definately not least, here are the flagstone steps
we excavated, poured, made the bannisters
and laid the flagstone. I did a great deal of the
flagstone work myself,
and I'm especially proud of how it turned out.
I think they are gorgeous!

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