B Street Farm Blossoms

Less than a mile away from the Pacific University Forest Grove Campus, nestled beside Gales Creek, is a blossoming three-acre plot known as the B Street Farm.

The site was the result of a partnership between Pacific and Forest Grove community members nearly a decade ago, and provides a space for both students and community members to participate in a hands-on learning experience about environmentally conscious and sustainable living practices. Projects on-site seek to engage participants in research, community building and demonstration of sustainable living practices.

Farmer Educator David Knaus and Site Coordinator Ron Calkins expertly manage the site, which houses dozens of different plants and several animals.

“People often think this is some sort of personal super garden,” Knaus says, while navigating rows upon rows of green tomato plants.

Though the site does contain several gardens, including a perennial, insect and herb garden, it encompasses so much more.

In addition to certified organic carrots, tomatoes, onions, squash, eggplants, radishes and cucumbers, there’s a grape arbor, beekeeping structure, wood-fired pizza oven and a dozen or so “silver fox” rabbits. Soon, a white oak nursery will also occupy space on the property to foster saplings that will eventually be transplanted on campus.

Each year, the site produces several hundred pounds of food — this year alone they’ve harvested 1,500 pounds of onions and will likely produce double that amount in tomatoes.

The food is always put to good use. B Street recently donated 70 pounds to the St. Vincent DePaul food pantry, and the site has donated 15,000 pounds of food to Food Rescue in the past. 

Students also have an opportunity to take home some of the food. For every hour of volunteer work, they earn a $5 credit towards food.

B Street is open to students, alumni, faculty and staff, as well as members of the community. Often, Knaus and Calkins will partner with local organizations like El Centro, Adelante Mujeres, Tualatin Valley Parks and Rec, and local middle and high schools to help community members learn about sustainable design and organic food.

One more recent addition to B Street is the incorporation of outdoor auxiliary classrooms. Several “living structures,” which are trees shaped to make small shelters, stand in a half-circle clearing, providing a woodsy, secluded area for classes to take place.

The site is a resource for students in several environmental studies programs, such as sustainability and sustainable design. But classes that meet on site aren’t necessarily related to sustainable design or agriculture. B Street simply provides a peaceful, refreshing alternative place to hold class.

Knaus’ favorite part of working on B Street is the students, he says decidedly, with a smile. 

“I love it when people ask questions about the plants and food that we grow,” Knaus said, “and we get to teach them something they never knew before.”

Friday, Sept. 11, 2015