Campus Gardens

UofL promotes food literacy and urban agriculture through gardens on all three of our campuses.

Ellie Miller, Garden & Farmers Market Intern 2015-16
2016-18 Garden Intern, Ellie Miller

Garden Commons

Interested in health, sustainability, good food, and growing things?! We need your help to make our garden grow! The Garden Commons at the Cultural Center is a community space for learning about organic urban agriculture, more sustainable food systems, and building resilient community. The Garden Commons is open to participation throughout the year from students, staff, faculty, and community members. Everyone who helps out is welcome to share in the harvest! Don't miss upcoming events - follow our Facebook Page.

Garden Commons Harvest 2015FALL 2017 GROUP WORKDAYS:
Fridays, Aug. 25 - Dec. 8, Noon-1pm
Garden Commons at the Cultural Center

Join us in UofL's organic garden for our group workdays! Learn (by doing) how to grow hyper-local, super-delicious vegetables, herbs, and fruits! Anyone can work in the garden any time, but we'll gather together every Friday throughout the fall semester from noon to 1pm to plant, weed, water, and harvest. No prior experience necessary. Tools & gloves provided. The Garden Commons is open to participation any time from students, staff, faculty, and community members. Everyone who comes is welcome to share in the harvest! Connect with us and get all the details on our Facebook Page.

Garden Commons 2011 Expansion
Garden Commons Grows
(UofL News, June 27, 2011)

Garden Commons First Harvest 5-12-10
May 2010 - Volunteers enjoy the first harvest.

Garden Commons Groundbreaking 3-3-10
March 3, 2010 - UofL breaks ground on the Garden Commons in partnership with YouthBuild and Louisville Grows.

  • Inquiries about the Garden Commons can be directed to our 2016-18 Garden Intern, Ellie Miller at 502-758-3834.
  • The Garden Commons is next to the Cultural Center (just across the parking lot from the SAC Clock Tower) and is open to participation throughout the year from students, staff, faculty, and community members. Those who help out in the garden are welcome to enjoy the fruits of our labor via you-pick. Please don't horde the harvest.
  • You need not wait for an invitation to get involved, but please join us as we gather regularly throughout the year for group workdays and a series of practical, hands-on workshops about how to manage different aspects of a chemical-free garden and greenhouse. No prior experience is necessary. Tools and gloves are available. Learn more and get involved by joining us on Facebook.
  • Several sustainable urban farming and permaculture practices are in use at the garden, including:
    1. Rainwater capture from the roof for irrigation in two different large rain barrel systems;
    2. Composting to generate organic fertilizer in four, rolling bins where you can toss your food scraps and organics (no meat, bones, or dairy products, please);
    3. Ten raised beds and several in-ground beds, including a perennial herb spiral, anda polycultural permaculture bed called a hugelkulture mound (buried wood which slowly composts, reducing the need for irrigation and fertilizer);
    4. A large, season-extending greenhouse with solar panels to power the ventilation fans and aquaponics pump;
    5. Fruit trees (apple, peach, serviceberry) and berry bushes (raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry);
    6. A maple tree, whose sap can be tapped in January/February to make syrup!
    7. Bike parking and an outdoor classroom space; and
    8. We have been experimenting with an aquaponics system in the greenhouse to raise fish and use their waste as fertilizer for plants.
  • Garden Commons is a community space open to participation from all. Learn more and get involved by joining us on Facebook.
  • More Fruit came to the Garden Commons in Spring 2013, with the planting of dwarf apple and peach trees, which joined our berry patch containing a native serviceberry, strawberries, raspberry canes and blueberry bushes.
  • The Garden Commons was first created in March 2010 with just four raised beds as a collaborative project in partnership with Louisville Grows, and has grown in scope and scale considerably since then. The largest change came during a summer 2011 expansion project with funding and volunteer labor donated by the Akzo Nobel coatings company.
  • Over the years, the garden has been managed by student interns and volunteers in the Garden Commons RSO (Recognized Student Organization) whose goal has been: "Educating ourselves to become urban farmers." The RSO is currently dormant, but could be revived with new student leadership. When the RSO was active, though everyone in the UofL community was invited to participate, students took the lead role in making decisions about what to plant, how to care for the crops, and what to do with the harvest.
  • The Garden Commons hosts an on-going series of hands-on workshops about organic gardening, agriculture, permaculture, and food justice.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and outdoorUofL hosts beekeeping workshop as part of Earth Week (WDRB, 4/17/17) Photos. Video.
UofL holds workshop on native plants (Fox19, 3/15/17)
Five things we learned about syrup during on-campus workshop (UofL News, 2/17/17)
Students get a taste for sustainable gardening (UofL News 9/4/15)
2012 Garden Workshop Series
Video: Garden Commons Expansion: June 2011
Garden Commons Grows (UofL Today, June 27, 2011)
Video: Garden Commons grows Nov. 2010
Video: Garden Commons Ground-breaking, March 3, 2010

Gardening Workshops

The Garden Commons has been host to an on-going series of workshops over the years. Workshops are open to all, typically involve some hands-on work, and have focused on everything from organic gardening practices (composting, rainwater harvesting, soil management, cover crops, natural pest repellents, seed saving, seed starting, compost tea, permaculture, intercropping, etc.) to harvest preserving techniques and cooking/nutrition to larger issues such as food justice and sustainable food systems. UofL's Sustainability Council has taken the lead to organize workshops, in collaboration with the Office of Health Promotion and the UofL Eco-Reps Program.

Urban & Public Affairs Horticulture ZoneUPA Horticulture Zone Ground-breaking 5-22-13

  • The UPA Horticulture Zone has been growing food & community behind UofL's Urban Studies Institute (426 W. Bloom St., west of Bettie Johnson Hall) since ground-breaking on May 22nd, 2013!
  • It is an initiative of the Urban & Public Affairs Student Organization, with funding provided by both the Student Organization and the Department of Urban & Public Affairs.
  • The students were inspired to take an under-utilized small parcel of green space behind the building and turn it into a living, productive, and engaging “Horticulture Zone.” What had once been an uninviting patch of grassUPA Garden - Oct2013 Sweet Potato Harvest that had to be mowed regularly with fossil fuels is being transitioned into an inviting outdoor gathering space beside our historic apple tree.
  • The space is used to grow fresh, delicious produce on fruit trees (peach, apple, and native serviceberry, pawpaw & persimmon) and in four raised beds filled with rich, organic compost made by volunteers on campus from food waste collected both on and off campus.
  • UPA students worked with Physical Plant’s grounds team to develop a site design that includes four hand-built planter beds with benches, sinuous paths, two compost bins, three rain barrels to capture water from the roof for irrigation, native shade-tolerant plants for areas under the canopy, and nitrogen-fixing red clover no-mow areas inspired by the Air Pollution Control District’s “Grow More, Mow Less” campaign which was run at the time by UPA graduate, Eric Burnett.
  • UPA Horticulture Zone plaqueAfter an abundant first growing season in 2013, three rain barrels were installed and the new garden was formally dedicated during on Campus Sustainability Day, October 23, 2013. The dedication ceremony was a highlight of UofL Sustainability Week and included the harvest of over 100 pounds of sweet potatoes grown in just one of the raised beds! Read the story: Campus horticultural zone has flowers, vegetable garden(UofL Today, Oct. 22, 2013)
  • The UPA Horticulture Zone is an all-volunteer project open to participation from anyone in the community. Learn more online or Contact: Yani Vozos yani.vozos@louisville.edu, 852-8002.

    Garden at The Province

    In Spring 2015, a new raised-bed community garden was installed by the Clubhouse at The Province, a UofL Affiliated Housing property on the northwest corner of campus. In summer 2015, a compost bin and rain barrel was added. The new garden features vegetables, herbs, and flowers and is intended for use by residents of The Province, who are welcome to pick fresh produce whenever they wish. All are welcome to regular workshops and tastings throughout the growing season. Stay in touch with events and developments in the garden via The Province's Facebook Page. Contact: Haley Cason, Asst. General Manager, HCason@studenthousing.com, 502-636-1688.

    Early Learning Campus Gardens

    Vegetable Garden atop Early Learning Campus at Family Scholar HousePreschool children at UofL's Early Learning Campus on W. Bloom Street learn about gardening from seed to harvest. The facility has featured a roof garden and greenhouse with vegetable beds since its opening. Once the UPA Horticulture Zone was created across the street in 2013, the children were taken on regular field trips to help plant seeds and taste the harvest. In spring 2016, UofL's lacrosse team helped install additional raised beds around the street-level outdoor play area so that kids can watch things grow as they play each day.

    The Early Learning Campus is part of the Gladys and Lewis "Sonny" Bass Louisville Scholar House Campus and is an exemplary early child development center for children of UofL faculty, staff and students, and residents of the Louisville Scholar House. The facility is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and offers full day curriculum for children aged six weeks to four years.

    Health Sciences Center GardenHSC Feeding Therapy Garden 7-29-11

    In the spring of 2011, dedicated nutritionists from the Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center (in the Kosair Charities Building at Floyd and Chestnut) decided to create a garden to benefit children receiving evaluation and therapy through the Feeding Disorders Program. The vision was that a garden would provide great opportunities for the children who are very restrictive in the variety of foods they will eat. By May 2011, the Feeding Therapy gardens were growing with tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and green beans sprouting from 3 square raised beds that were already in place between Baxter I and II. To learn more, contact Diana Pantalos.

    Shelby Campus Garden

    Shelby Campus CPM Birthday Garden (July 2011)

    In 2011, dedicated staff at UofL's LEED Gold certified Center for Predictive Medicine on the Shelby campus planted a "Birthday" Garden which takes the place of cake and ice cream celebrations for our employees. Staff and researchers at the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory enjoyed a bountiful harvest in 2011 and have replanted each year! To learn more, contact Marlene Steffen.

    Maple Tapping - March 2016
    UofL students tap maple trees for syrup
    (Courier-Journal, 3/11/16)

    Office of Health Promotion Herb Garden
    July 2011 - UofL's Office of Health Promotion was inspired to start an herb garden in repurposed cigarette butt containers!

    Resources for Urban Agriculture