The Learning Garden has room to grow

Enterprising students started the Learning Garden 10 years ago. The one acre lot sitting on the southwest corner of the campus has produced 3,000 pounds of produce for Lane’s campus kitchens and food pantry. Lane’s outdoor classroom, the Learning Garden, offers students a variety of things to learn.

Diego Llewellyn-Jones began work at the Learning Garden as a federal work study student in 2013. He quickly advanced to the position of the Learning Garden Specialist, which included more responsibility. Llewellyn-Jones is also an agriculture major at Oregon State University.  

Llewellyn-Jones and his work study student, Cynthia Wargnier, host “garden parties” every Tuesday and Friday from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Friends, family, children and community members are all welcome to attend. No experience or tools are required. Attendees help with a project of the day and learn about gardening. Oftentimes party goers leave with fresh produce from Lane’s garden.

At times, Lane instructors take their classes through the garden.

“I bring my ecology students to the garden to learn about the diversity of birds on our campus. Students gain hands-on experience about gardening for edible plants,” Pat Boleyn, instructor of biology and watershed science, said.

In October, children who attend the preschool on campus walked through the Learning Garden and chose a pumpkin from the mini pumpkin patch. Llewellyn-Jones and Wargnier gather vegetable seeds, which will be given to the preschool teachers to plant in their classroom gardens in the spring.

Lane’s annual Harvest Dinner, themed “Roots,” was held Tuesday, Nov. 1. The Learning Garden grew and delivered 300 pounds of root vegetables to the event.

“The roots we received from the garden were amazing,” culinary student Jay Smith said.

“I am very proud we use our own produce in our food services, Center for Meeting and Learning and for college events. When other colleges come here for meetings, they are always complimentary about our food, even more so when they know it is produced right here at Lane,” President Mary Spilde said.

Leonard Keen, instructor of Advanced Technology, has been asked to help the Learning Garden twice. In 2015, Keen, along with the help of his student, Linda Perkins, had built a wooden front gate to replace a dilapidated one. Then, on April 13, 2016, a tree collapsed onto a shed. Keen will build the new, larger shed, which will be used to hold tools and insulated crop supplies.

“I expect the garden will evolve in the future to meet changing needs and collaborate with other parts of the college to extend its reach,” Spilde said.

“Although the workshops are suspended, come in and sit at one of the covered picnic tables. Walk around the garden and explore, but please do not pick without permission. The garden is always open,” Llewellyn-Jones said.

To receive information regarding upcoming events at the Learning Garden, register on Orgsync, or email