LBCC’s horticulture garden serves as a class laboratory, chicken coop and student study place while fostering drought tolerant plants and testing plant safety for the city.

The PCC’s student-maintained garden includes a pond, plants, wooden crafts, and primarily serves as a laboratory for horticulture classes.

“Once you’re in the program, you pretty much always take care of (the garden),” said Erik Brid, 41, president of the horticulture club.

Horticulture professor, Jorge Ochoa said that every plant in the “living lab” has been planted by a student.

Ochoa said, “Nothing in the garden is concrete. It’s an evolving unit that is living and growing, maturing and dying, you name it!”

Ochoa said that the program has the widest range of water-wise plants in Long Beach. For three years, the horticulture program has been partnered with the local water department to implement drought tolerant plants which saves 50 percent of water being used on lawns.

The garden also contains an area where numerous chickens, and a rooster, live and lay eggs.

With community members wanting to own chickens as pets, the program is conducting tests for the city to determine which types of plants are safe to have around the animals. Ochoa said that the research will help the city determine what regulations pet owners need to follow.

Ochoa said, “The garden is really showcasing to the area what the college is capable of doing.”

Current student projects include constructing birdhouses and a wooden deck that will be placed in the garden.

Students and faculty are invited to attend the upcoming open house plant sale on March 26 from 4 to 7 p.m. The plant sale will be open to the public March 27-30 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. There will be free food and drinks available, as well vegetable carving demonstrations by faculty.

Ochoa said the open house gives the program the opportunity to recruit students while allowing current students to learn to deal with the business end of the industry.

Brid said, “My favorite thing about the garden is its peace and serenity. It’s a place I hope our college students visit.”

The garden has campus Wi-Fi and meeting areas that are open to all students from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. as long classes are not interrupted.

Xiao Juan Dang, 25, a child development major said she has never visited the garden before, but “the fact that it has free Wi-Fi and creates such a peaceful atmosphere makes it sound like a good place to study.”

Students who wish to visit the garden and learn more about horticulture may attend the horticulture club’s meetings Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. in the garden.