Garden Reclamation

Rows upon rows of seeds have been planted, and now they wait patiently for their chance to peek through the top layer of soil to greet the moist air.

By | Michelle N. Meyers

The CCAT garden’s are moving and bending in shape, forever changing with the seasons, through the helping hands that come and go. The folks at CCAT are welcoming these changes of seasons with open arms. Rows upon rows of seeds have been planted and now they wait patiently for their chance to peek through the top layer of soil to greet the moist air. Yet, it’s still just too early to see what lies within these carefully raked piles of soil. It’s fall in Humboldt, the height of the rainy season will soon be upon us, and outside the rain gently flutters across the terraced gardens, over the open grass, and trickles down the windowed walls of the CCAT greenhouse.

CCAT herb garden. | Michelle Meyers

Inside the greenhouse, Austin Anderson, Co-Director at CCAT is hard at work, re-treating its wooden floors in order to limit wear and tear and slow weathering, so that the floors stand strong, hopefully for many seasons to come.

In regards to the greenhouse, CCAT volunteer coordinator Natalie Rynne says, “The thing that everybody is most excited about, is the hydroponic system.”

The new system is intended to reduce water usage by controlling the amount of water that goes into the plants and recycling their runoff. In addition, Rynne says crops that can’t commonly be grown in this climate can now be grown year round inside of the greenhouse.

Outside of the greenhouse, around the CCAT grounds and gardens, coordinators and volunteers are currently working on revamping these surrounding areas to prep for new, exciting projects.

“We’re trying to reclaim everything again,” said Rynne. “Clear all the weeds, mulch everything, and build up the soil.”

Cob woodfire oven and Compost Demonstration Site. | Michelle Meyers

One of the many projects underway in the CCAT gardens is the Food Forest. Rynne says the project works to “create a forest of edible plants,“ by creating different gardening areas that all even have different names.

The folks at CCAT cook with the food grown on the grounds and would like the Food Forest to be a place where visitors can enjoy the ‘fruits’ of the Food Forest as well. Rynne also hopes that the Food Forest can be a place where people come to simply hang out and relax.

“It smells amazing up there because of the jasmine” says Rynne as she pauses to gaze at the billowing bushes of jasmine blooms.

Near the jasmine bushes, the folks at CCAT have also recently constructed by hand what are called Cob structures. Everything that went into these structures was derived from all organic or reused materials, such as clay, straw, sand, newspaper and a natural plaster, used to coat the structures. This form of building has proven to be incredibly versatile, hearty and efficient.

Anh Bui
Anh Bui, NRG and ETaP grad student. | Michelle Meyers

So far they have constructed Cob benches so people have another place to sit and enjoy the scenery, Cob terraces, in order to provide homes to a variety of plants, and even a wood fire Cob oven, which allows them an opportunity to prepare meals outdoors. Due to Cob’s heat retention properties, it makes to be an incredible oven explains Rynne.

Over the years, CCAT has come a long way. They began their journey in 1978, and since then coordinators and volunteers have been hard at work, addressing issues in the local and global environmental community, hosting sustainability centered workshops and also working the property itself, installing sustainable technology such as a composting bin, solar hot panels, and wind turbines.

The Buck House itself has undergone immense change over the years. It’s seen repairs, improvements, and new sustainable innovation come and go, such as the addition of a new roof, an entire ground floor and the installation of a Graywater catchment system used to recycle used dish, shower, laundry and hand-washing water.

A new season has just begun and there’s still lots of gardening and more to be done at CCAT.


The Campus Center For Appropriate Technology is located on the Humboldt State University campus near the Redwood Community Forest.

To learn more about CCAT and to keep up to date on all of the happenings at CCAT, click here.

Head over to their Facebook page under Campus Center For Appropriate Technology

To contact CCAT

(707) 826-3551


CCAT Upcoming events:

Open Mic Night

Oct. 13 at 7:00pm

Herbalism Workshop with Loba Loca

Oct. 18 at 5:00pm


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