Over the past few years the grounds crew at Willamette has been taking great steps toward sustainability. They have changed the way they maintain the campus grounds, substituting chemical control agents with organic and natural methods. The product of their hard work is an accreditation by the Oregon Tilth, a beautiful and healthy campus, and a community that feels that the values of our students, faculty, and staff are reflected in our actions.
The transition toward sustainability
A major concern that helped motivate this transformation was the exposure of humans, especially visiting children, to the incredibly hazardous chemicals that were being used on the campus lawns. Additionally, members of the grounds crew recognized while our lawns and flower beds were beautiful, they were comprised of mostly non native plants, inhibiting the University from becoming the safe haven for the wildlife and insects that our students learn are so critical to the success of Oregon's ecosystems.
In light of these and other concerns, the crew viewed the transition toward sustainability as “the right thing to do.” A transition of this magnitude, however, required a commitment on behalf of the entire University, as organic land care is more expensive, and requires some sacrifices. The community had to sacrifice their expectation for uniformity throughout the grounds and although the manual labor (part of their new method) is cheaper than using chemicals, it can be time intensive.
Fortunately, the efforts of the grounds crew were embraced by the community, and the crew has taken great pride in spearheading this transition. It allows them to get back to the basics of gardening and ask themselves what they, the plants, and the environments they are managing really need.
Learn more about the plants and animals you can find on campus
View the slide show documenting the progress, and learn more about the plants and animals you can now find on campus.
Did you know?
You may have noticed that in talking about Willamette's recognition from the Oregon Tilth we've consistently used the word accredited rather than certified. That's because "certified" is a word reserved for food production whereas "accredited" is the word used for land management.