Going Green at Evergreen State College

This whole week, we’ve been highlighting some of the country’s greenest colleges and universities. We’ve recognized UC-Santa Barbara for its commitment to water conservation, American University for its waste management strategy, and University of Minnesota-Morris for its impressive renewable energy portfolio.

Today, we turn our attention to Evergreen State College in Washington. As the name suggests, Evergreen State is truly a green campus. The 1,000-acre campus is primarily composed of second growth forest. Dozens of trails snake through the forest, a few of which lead out to Evergreen Beach, a unique coastal habitat in Puget Sound. The forest is often described as the campus’ primary classroom, providing an opportunity for ecological and scientific research. The grounds are carefully and sustainably managed; no herbicides or insecticides are used for landscaping.

Some parts of the forest maintain reserve status, so as to minimize foot traffic and protect the region’s ecological balance, particularly the health of its watershed.

On the north side of Evergreen’s campus, 5 acres is devoted to “agricultural and ecological studies. The five-acre plot includes the farmhouse, Demeter’s Gardens, Community Gardens, the compost facility, the workroom, tool shed, greenhouses and the 38,000 square foot production area of the Organic Farm.

Sheep and chickens are raised at the farm, as well as a diverse array of produce. Produce is sold through a local CSA farmshare and an on-campus farm stand. Some of the produce is also served in Evergreen’s dining halls. Students have the opportunity to intern at the farm for college credit.

As some of the country’s largest property owners, colleges and universities have a unique opportunity—and obligation—to manage their land responsibly and sustainably. In this regard, Evergreen State College is leading the way. The college’s efforts to preserve the health of its ecosystem are truly admirable.