The school community garden: college students getting their hands dirty

You likely associate community gardens with neighborhoods: residents (either with permission or “guerrilla gardening”-style) take over an empty lot and turn it into a green space. It turns out that colleges and universities have gotten in on the act: a number of schools around the US now offer space to students, faculty, and staff members who want to dig in the dirt, and grow their own food. The University of Idaho is the most recent school to host a community garden; others have done it for years, or even decades. Here are just a few…

  • The University of Wisconsin’s Eagle Heights Community Gardens (EHCG): Since 1962, Badgers have had the opportunity to grow food locally and organically at this garden located at a university apartment complex. According to the garden’s web site, it’s a diverse activity: “the pool of gardners speak approximately 60 languages.”
  • Grand Valley State University Community Garden: This Michigan school’s garden started as a class project: students in a philosophy course on ecological literacy and sustainability designed and implemented the garden the 2008 Winter semester.
  • The University of Maine Community Gardens: This state system has gardens at both its Augusta and Bangor campuses. As with others, those who work in the garden get a pick of the harvest; leftover vegetables are sold or donated to local food banks.
  • Ecosense’s Community Garden at American University: Founded in 2009, the garden at American University is primarily a student-led project. Environmental club Ecosense tends the garden, and got help from the university with a $1000 Eagle Endowment grant, and preparation work from Facilities Management.
  • The Duke University Community Garden: Also a student-run garden, organizers want to use their space to provide local, organic produce to campus food services (see the video above).

What great examples of experiential learning! Know of another college or university community garden? Share it with us. Want to start one of your own? Cooperative extensions at the University of California and the University of Missouri offer community garden planning kits.


  • Northeast Missouri’s Sandhill Farm feeds itself on homegrown, organic produce
  • Check out our eco gardening supplies at sustainablog’s Green Choices store