Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati
cuts the ribbon Aug. 20 to open its Green Learning Station, it will do more than add a new exhibit to its facility on Reading Road. The nonprofit center, which has provided horticultural education and resources to green-thumbed Cincinnatians since the 1940s, will offer new services, education and scientific information.
The $1.2 million Green Learning station showcases a wide range of environmentally friendly technology, including a composting facility, a green roof and pervious pavers to control water runoff.
"We've got all of this technology concentrated in a very small area," says CGC program manager Ryan Mooney-Bullock.
The technology allows the CGC to expand its educational offerings. Along with its traditional programs focused on growing flowers, fruits and vegetables, the center can now offer courses on composting, rainwater management as well as other environmental topics that shape quality of life. Consequently, the center's long-standing field-trip programming now includes options for middle-and high-school students, and Mooney-Bullock says professional development courses are being created for landscape architects, builders and green professionals.
CGC board member and Green Learning Station project manager Betsy Townsend says this spirit of going above and beyond springs from the very process that launched the station. Input from the variety of granting agencies that funded the project, such as the Metropolitan Sewer District, which supported the project through a $400,000 grant, helped determine its final focus.
"The details of the project expanded," Townsend says. "We were able to incorporate elements that weren't in our original budget."
Some of those elements include research, a new avenue for CGC to pursue with its facilities. Environmental sensor supplier UrbanAlta provided equipment and expertise that turned the Green Learning Station's exhibits into measurable test pieces for environmental technology. Mooney-Bullock explains that students from the University of Cincinnati and environmental engineers are using the sensors to track how the station's green roof, pervious pavers and other rainwater control measures perform on a near-real-time basis. The data collected could help improve the city's runoff management, a major issue for the MSD.
"They really need that data to make the case to install the technology on a wide scale, and to support policy changes," she says.
Townsend adds that the Green Learning Station will continue the CGC's mission of public education as well, through self-guided tours. And as this year's plants take root and begin to flourish in 2012, she says the CGC will work to reach out to more members of the public than ever.
"That's a piece we will really be pushing next spring," she says.
By Matt Cunningham
Follow Matt on Twitter @cunningcontent