UofL promotes food literacy and urban agriculture through gardens on all three of our campuses.
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 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.
- For questions during the 2015 season, feel free to contact our EcoReps Intern and Biology major who will be regularly working (typically Wednesdays & Fridays noon-2pm) in the garden, greenhouse, and composting operations: Maher Chebbi, email@example.com, 812-989-8164.
- You need not wait for an invitation to get involved, but please join us as we weed, water, and harvest at our regular group work days! No prior experience necessary. Tools and gloves provided. Everyone who comes is welcome to fresh-picked fruit, veggies, mint, herbs, and whatever else is ready for harvest! Learn more and get involved by joining us on or on OrgSync.
- 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, and a 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 student-built solar panels to power the ventilation fans;
5. Fruit trees (apple, peach, serviceberry) and berry bushes (raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry);
6. Bike parking and an outdoor classroom space; and
7. We have been experimenting with an aquaponics system in the greenhouse to raise fish and use their waste as fertilizer for plants.
- The garden has been managed by student interns and volunteers in the Garden Commons RSO (Recognized Student Organization) whose goal is: "Educating ourselves to become urban farmers."
- Though everyone in the UofL community is invited to participate, students have taken the lead role in making decisions about what to plant, how to care for the crops, and what to do with the harvest.
- Garden Commons is a community space open to participation from all. Learn more and get involved by joining us on or on OrgSync.
- 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.
- The Garden Commons hosts an on-going series of workshops about organic gardening, agriculture, and food justice.
Garden Commons Workshops
As part of a series of workshops, food justice advocate, Stephen Bartlett, helped students decide what to plant in the garden and understand the broader connections to making our local food system more sustainable. Learn more about the 2012 Garden Workshop Series.
Vision for the Garden Commons
- University of Louisville expanding organic garden at Belknap (Courier-Journal, June 22, 2011)
- Garden Commons Grows (, June 27, 2011)
Garden Commons Expansion: June 2011
Garden Commons: Sustainability in Motion, Nov. 2010
Garden Commons Ground-breaking, March 3, 2010
- With a ground-breaking on May 22, 2013, the UPA Horticulture Zone behind UofL's Urban Studies Institute (426 W. Bloom St., west of Bettie Johnson Hall) is the latest food garden to be created on campus!
- 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 grass that had to be mowed regularly with fossil fuels
is being transitioned into an inviting outdoor gathering space beside our
historic apple tree.
- There we are now growing fresh, delicious produce in four
raised beds that have been filled with rich, organic compost made by volunteers
on campus from food waste collected from UofL dining and other sources.
- 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, compost bins, rain barrels to capture water from the roof for irrigation, native shade-tolerant plants for areas under the canopy, and a nitrogen-fixing red clover no-mow area inspired by the Air Pollution Control District’s “Grow More, Mow Less” campaign run by UPA graduate, Eric Burnett.
- After 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. Contact: Yani Vozos firstname.lastname@example.org, 852-8002.
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.
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 replanted in 2012! To learn more, contact Marlene Steffen.
- Map of Louisville Community Gardens.
- Urban Garden Share - Looking for garden space? Got some space to share? Connect here.
15Thousand Farmers - helping create, empower, and inspire 15,000 new, sustainable, neighborhood backyard/front yard farmers in Louisville to feed themselves, their families and others! Follow on
- Louisville Grows - a non-profit whose mission is to grow a just and sustainable community in Louisville through urban agriculture, urban forestry, and environmental education. Follow on
Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville - seeking to educate, train, empower and accompany the next generation of farmers for the rebuilding of a just and local food economy in Louisville and its regional foodshed.
- Food in Neighborhoods (FIN) Community Coalition - supporting community efforts to build a just, healthy and sustainable food system. Follow on
- FallingFruit.org is a worldwide mapping resource for urban foragers. Check out ComPassion Fruit Louisville's map of local, public resources that you can harvest from!