Learning Gardens Laboratory

COVID-19: Important Updates!

As the world grapples with response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, a focus on local resiliency, particularly in regards to robust, equitable food systems, is essential. Food and agricultural activities are considered “essential critical infrastructure” by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the Department of Homeland Security. Beyond national security, we need to ensure food security, particularly among our most vulnerable populations. We are striving to build resilience into our local food systems during these uncertain times. The sustainable agriculture and educational activities at the PSU Learning Gardens Laboratory are more vital than ever.

The Learning Gardens Laboratory provides significant amounts of fresh, high-quality, affordable produce to the local community each year. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, in-person educational activities and volunteer opportunities have been reduced for the time being so that most of our human resources (LGL staff) can be focused on food production and distribution, following strict health and safety protocols. As the growing season continues, we will continue connecting with other community-based organizations to distribute plants and produce. You can support our efforts by making a tax-deductible donation today.

Our mission

The Learning Gardens Lab supports academic achievement, leadership development, and local sustainable food systems by providing multicultural, interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and experiential garden-based education for public school students and their families, university students, and community members.

Who we are

The Learning Garden Laboratory (LGL) is a 12-acre garden education site located in Southeast Portland that provides K-12, university students and community members hands-on and place-based education in sustainable gardening, healthy nutrition, and permaculture. Education at LGL supports improved academic achievement, leadership development, and the development of sustainable local food systems Established in 2005, LGL exists as a unique partnership between Portland State University, Portland Public Schools, Portland Parks and Recreation, and Oregon State University Extension Service.

The Learning Gardens Lab serves as a model of community-based education focused on a hands-on and practical learning tool: the garden. Through garden-based education and outreach, this site serves Lane Middle School students, PSU students, SUN Program participants, Community Transition School students, OSU Extension Service’s beginning farmers and Master Gardeners, and more.

The site itself—formerly a dairy farm in the 1950’s— is located in what is now the diverse, working class Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood in southeast Portland. For many years, the site was known as Green Thumb, a high school horticulture training site.

Dozens of garden beds growing vegetables, ornamentals, and fruits speckle the acreage; some of the beds are designated for our Lane Middle School students, others are production beds tended by PSU students, collaborators of the Black Futures Farm, and families from the neighborhood. 

There are also five large greenhouses on site at LGL, one of which (Greenhouse 5) is home to Learning Garden Laboratory activities. The greenhouse is the site of a variety of horticultural activities and are where many classes and meetings take place.

The campus of Portland Public School’s Community Transition Center—a post-high school program for students transitioning into the community—is just to the North of the greenhouses on site.

Across the street from LGL is Lane Middle School, a Portland Public School serving grades 6-8, and a Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Community School.

All programs at LGL are coordinated by a staff team of graduate students in the Leadership for Sustainability Education program, and other graduate programs such as the Sustainable Food Systems Certificate. 

What we do

  • Garden-based education with Lane Middle School students. Students learn science and sustainability in the garden!
  • Courses and workshops for PK-12 educators about how to create garden-based sustainability curriculum. For more information contact: Sybil Kelley at sybilkel@pdx.edu
  • Service-learning capstone courses with over 100 Portland State University students each year. Watch a video about the PSU Capstone program, and check out this beautiful capstone LGL cookbook project at The Merry Melting Pot Manual
  • Digital story telling projects with PSU freshmen as part of a year long Freshman Inquiry course: Watch Sustainability as a Process; Curiosity; and Farmstand
  • Hands-on gardening and sustainable living skills with local neighbors in the Lane Family Garden and the OSU Master Gardener Demonstration Garden
  • Community Harvest Share: Fresh produce baskets available for purchase weekly (June-Oct) grown with love at LGL. 
  • Community events open to everyone: The fall Harvest Festival and the April Earth Day Festival.

Want to visit with a group?

Bring a group to LGL for a garden-based education tour, a service-learning activity, or other educational experience. We can work with you to customize a learning experience that is just right for your group. To make arrangements, contact our volunteer coordinator at lglvolunteer@gmail.com. We request a $5/per person donation to LGL for all group visits. 

Volunteering at LGL

The Learning Gardens Laboratory could not function without the dedication and participation of our partners. Indeed, collaborative effort, volunteerism and dialogue are the backbone of LGL’s historical, current and future progress. In a time when financial resources are scarce and the primary needs of our community grow, we can model sustainable partnerships as well as sustainability education, sustainable agriculture, and best environmental practices. The spirit of cooperation and service is what makes LGL tick.

Interested in volunteering at LGL? We’d love to have you!  
Before serving, please read the volunteer handbook. If you are new to LGL you will be given a tour, introduced to staff and other volunteers, and educated on our best-practice protocols. These include things like where tools are kept and stored, how to clean them, gardening practices, communicating with volunteer leaders, and much more.

Review the Volunteer Handbook.
Sign our Volunteer Liability Waiver.

Volunteer Coordinator

For questions contact LGL volunteer coordinator at: lglvolunteer@gmail.com.

The LGL is located in SE Portland on 60th Ave across from Brentwood Park between Duke and Flavel. 6801 SE 60th Ave.


The LGL is located in SE Portland on 60th Ave (across from Brentwood Park between Duke and Flavel).
6801 SE 60th Ave. 
Portland, OR 97206 USA