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Campus Gardens

by Mog,Justin M last modified Jul 07, 2016 07:28 PM

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

Garden Commons May '13 Peaches Garden Commons May '13 Strawberry
UofL students tap maple trees for syrup (Courier-Journal, March 11, 2016)
Garden Commons June 2012 Harvest Garden Commons Workshop
Campus Health Promotion Herb GardenJuly 2011 - Campus Health Promotion gets inspired to start an herb garden in repurposed cigarette butt containers.
Garden Commons Grows (UofL Today, June 27, 2011)Garden Commons Site Design
Garden Commons First HarvestMay 2010 - Volunteers enjoy the first harvest.
Garden Commons Ground-breakingMarch 3, 2010 - UofL breaks ground on the Garden Commons in partnership with YouthBuild and Louisville Grows.

Garden Commons Facebook

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! Stay tuned for upcoming events on our Facebook Page.

SUMMER 2016 GROUP WORKDAYS: Every other Wednesday 11am-noon: June 29, July 13, July 27, Aug. 10. Contact: Ellie Miller at 502-758-3834.

  • Inquiries about the Garden Commons can be directed to our 2016-17 Garden & Farmers Market 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, 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 solar panels to power the ventilation fans & 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.
  • 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 Facebook 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 hands-on workshops about organic gardening, agriculture, permaculture, and food justice.

Gardening Workshops

Garden Commons Harvest Party!
Saturday, Aug. 20th 2:00 - 3:00pm outside the Cultural Center
During Welcome Week 2016, all are encouraged to stop by UofL's organic Garden Commons to sample some of the delicious fresh produce we've grown together over the summer and learn how you can get involved and learn how to grow your own food right here on campus! Sponsored by the UofL Sustainability Council with help from our friends in the Office of Health Promotion. Connect with us on Facebook.

  • Also joining us will be Kati Burton from The Food Literacy Project, who will be showing us their Truck Farm, which is a mobile demonstration garden with veggies planted in the pickup bed!

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.

Garden Commons History

Garden Commons Expansion: June 2011


Garden Commons grows Nov. 2010


Garden Commons Ground-breaking, March 3, 2010 UPA Horticulture Zone Before UPA Horticulture Zone Ground-breaking 5-22-13 UPA Garden Planting 5-30-13 USI Garden - Oct2013 Sweet Potato Harvest Grow More, Mow Less

Urban & Public Affairs Horticulture Zone

  • 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 grass 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.
  • 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. Learn more online or Contact: Yani Vozos, 852-8002.

Garden at The ProvinceThe Province Community Garden

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,, 502-636-1688.

Early Learning Campus Gardens

Preschool 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 College of Education students 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 Garden

HSC Feeding Therapy Garden 7-29-11In 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 CPM Birthday Garden (July 2011)

Shelby Campus Garden

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.

Resources for Urban Agriculture

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