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Rooftop garden a boon for school

While a rooftop garden at Dakota County Technical College may not become one of the Seven Wonders of the World, like the hanging garden's of Babylon, it will surely inspire awe.

Construction of an extensive rooftop garden will begin at DCTC in spring of 2009. And while it will take years to complete, the opportunities the garden creates for the college are nearly endless.

The brainchild of landscape horticulture instructor Matt Brooks, the garden will provide students in the landscape horticulture program countless educational opportunities as its built and maintained over the years.

A growing trend, rooftop gardens are a feature Brooks believes his students are bound to run into in their careers. By building and maintaining the garden at DCTC he said the school is providing them an important hands on experience. In addition, students from programs including welding and masonry will employ their skills to aid in the construction.

With 18 inches of topsoil, plus one four-foot-deep trench fit for planting trees, the DCTC rooftop garden will be extensive. Brooks said plans call for rounded lines to contrast with the hard lines and edges of the school. Various trees, shrubs and vegetation will grow throughout the space, including vines on a pergola.

DCTC students have designed the garden taking into consideration issues such as the structural integrity of the building, membranes to protect it and drainage issues. Brooks said the building was already equipped to handle a large amount of soil which makes it ideal to convert. Currently the area is covered with grass.

Besides educational opportunities the garden poses other advantages. It will serve all DCTC students and staff as a place to get out of the building and get some fresh air.

"We really don't have any outdoor areas here on campus where you can get out and get a fresh breath of air," said Brooks.

Additionally, the endeavor is consistent with the college's Green Campus Commitment, which began in June 2007 when DCTC president Ron Thomas signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.

The garden will improve air quality by cutting down on CO2 emissions, mitigate stormwater runoff, cool the building during the summer and heat it in the winter. In general the garden will increase the value of the building, Brooks said.

For more information visit the DCTC Landscape Horticulture program website at