The idea for UGArden started with a group of students from various student organizations with an interest in the environment and sustainable agriculture. The student group was called the Campus Community Gardening Initiative and they proposed the garden be named UGArden. The founding members of the initiative were Craig Page, Morgan Flemming, Jenny Brickman, Liberty Newberry, and Jennifer Wolf.
These students drafted a Proposal that included a mission statement and plans for continued care of the garden. Several sites were proposed, however, finding a permanent home proved challenging, mostly due to the changing nature of a growing campus and the need for a sunny, open space where a garden could be grown without concern for future campus development.
Though the UGArden farm has grown well beyond the size and scale originally proposed, the mission has held true to the ideals of a teaching garden with a focus on community outreach. Initially financed with funds from the Horticulture Department, with site preparations provided by the UGA Grounds Department, students began preparing the first garden plot in May of 2010. Bolstered by funds from a USDA (NIFA) Higher Education grant to support a newly established interdisciplinary Local Food Systems Certificate, UGArden expanded rapidly over the following years. The first formal course was offered in the summer of 2011. Currently, UGArden provides teaching garden space for two Freshman Odyssey courses, a for-credit internship course, and three upper-level courses. Students from all majors can come to UGArden to take classes or volunteer to learn how to grow a wide range of crops using organic methods. The current Vision Statement for UGArden can be found here.
What do we do with our produce?
A large portion of the produce grown at UGArden is distributed to families in need in the community through our partner organization, Campus Kitchen. Some produce is shared through our outreach program Grow it Know it at Clarke Middle School, Hilsman Middle School, Coile Middle School, and Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School. At these four Clarke County middle schools, UGArden produce is used for cooking demonstrations and food sampling in the cafeteria. They also use our produce in the summer Kitchen Corps Program and their weekly pop-up restaurant. UGArden is proud to support four weekly community produce stands at Clarke Middle School, Athens Community Council on Aging, Hilsman Middle School, and Coile Middle School. Produce is offered at a reasonable price for anyone and half off for those eligible for SNAP benefits. This fall, we initiated a small experimental project to grow a few select herbs for the UGA Dining Halls. A small portion of our produce is taken home by volunteers to show our appreciation for their work. Most recently, UGArden has started to donate weekly produce to the UGA Food Pantry for students.
People often ask us why we don’t operate a large-scale CSA, or sell produce on a larger scale. Our answer to that question is two-fold. First, and foremost, we are a teaching garden and as such, we allow students to practice, learn and make mistakes. Second, we feel the bounty of our harvest is best shared with those in need in the community.
Produce Stand Schedule:
Monday – Clark Middle School Market 4:15-6pm
Tuesday – Athens Community Council on Aging Market 11am-1pm
Wednesday – Hilsman Middle School Market 4:15-6pm
UGArden is now offering a 6-month membership where members will receive 50% off produce at any of our stands for a one-time payment of $45. For more information email us at firstname.lastname@example.org