VBC '18: The PSU Orchard

Portland State University’s (PSU) Student Sustainability Center (SSC) is a hub that integrates learning opportunities about sustainability to students. Students from the SSC organized two VBC’18 events. On June 4th, they installed a new rainwater catchment system along the cob structure located inside the PSU Community Orchard on SW Montgomery and 12 Avenue. On June 6th, they made a pathway for increasing  accessibility for people with disabilities. Around 10-15 people got together for each event. Since Village Building Convergence (VBC) is a 10 day big festival, the participants are not only PSU students, but also local citizens, people from other states, and countries. The PSU Orchard was one of the 30 community sites that worked with City Repair to collaboratively vision and implement a placemaking project. The PSU Orchard has had numerous installations and events through the VBC starting with the building of the earthen bench for VBC 2012. You can keep track of PSU VBC events via their facebook page here.

First project is the new rainwater catchment system project. They installed a new gutter and a barrel.

Students painted the barrel before the event. They painted flowers, plants, earth, bees, and so on.

The garden coordinator, Laihha, explains the backstory of this project:

We had a period of time in the spring where we had no water and it made a lot of us think about water catchment. We already obtained a rainwater catchment barrel so there was no questions asked, we were going to create the rainwater catchment system. We also felt that it was a part of creating our new, welcoming and friendly entrance to the orchard.

Second project is the new pathway project.

Since the end of April, the PSU garden task force, one of seven leadership development groups run by student employees with the SSC, dug the ground and made a cuboid hole beforehand. I worked with them as a volunteer for the pathway project preparation. It was a lot of work to make a neat hole.

During the VBC event, the first task was to put the gravel in the hole. The volunteer workers gathered and began working little by little.

After spreading out the gravel, they pressed the gravel by using a special tool, and made the pathway flat.

Then, they put the sand on the gravel, pressed it, and made the pathway flat.

Finally, they put the bricks on the sand, and filled the gap between each brick with sand.
The garden coordinator, Laihha, had been planning these projects for a year. During VBC week, there was a huge effort put in by the community. Laihha says that it was so inspiring to see how many people wanted to come help us and celebrate our accomplishments.