Ascend the gentle slope throughout the seasons. Peer into a wetland of cattails; take in the botanical, food and permaculture gardens; observe the wildflower meadow, geology path and—in the distance—the orchard. You cannot help but observe an essential reality: our natural and physical world is immeasurably diverse and ever changing.

At GCC's Outdoor Learning Laboratory, students engage in this natural and physical world to go beyond their classroom learning across many disciplines. The gardens restore ecological health, help feed and beautify our college community, and provide members of our wider community the opportunity to learn, enjoy and rest.

Explore the OLL

Botanical Garden

Featuring perennial plants native to Franklin County, the Botanical Garden showcases a diverse array of species from ferns to flowering plants. 

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Geology Path

Rock specimens take visitors on a journey of geologic drama spanning hundreds of millions of years. 

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Passive and active solar design strive to create a year-round growing environment with low net energy use.

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 This site incorporates fruits that are hardy to the climate such as apple, pear, peach and plum along with the native pawpaw.   This site was designed and constructed by GCC students.  

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Permaculture Garden

Students designed and installed this multi-purpose garden to provide food for people and wildlife, build soil, manage water runoff and create beauty in our campus landscape. 

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Wildflower Meadow

The wildflower meadow in New England is a mix of nature and human maintenance.  The wildflower and grasses will succumb to forest succession if trees and shrubs are not controlled annually.  This meadow provides several ecological benefits such as wildlife and pollinator habitat.

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Marsh & Wet Meadow

The wet soil determines which plant species will survive at this site. Certain wetland plants have adapted to their environment such as cattails, which cannot get oxygen from the saturated soils and relies on specialized plant tissue to bring air into the leaves and move it to the root system.


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Rain Garden

 This garden uses the power of plants to encourage water to infiltrate back into the soil.  Instead of sending water to the storm drain and the treatment plant,  the garden slows water running off impervious surfaces and holds in until it goes back into the soil.

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