The idea for UGArden started with a group of students who were passionate about the environment and sustainable agriculture. Together, they formed a group called the Campus Community Garden Initiative and created the proposal for a student farm. The founding members of the initiative were Mary Ora Carlson (first president of UGArden Club), Craig Page, Morgan Flemming, Jenny Brickman, Liberty Newberry, and Jennifer Wolf.
These students drafted the Original UGArden Proposal. The next step was to find a site. This was a challenge due to the changing nature of a growing campus, and the need for a sunny, open space where a garden could grow. The S. Milledge site was selected because of its proximity to existing Horticulture greenhouses, and the availability of space for future development. This proved fortuitous as UGArden would grow from a single plot to a full-fledged farm on nearly 10 acres.
With the support of the Horticulture Department and 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. Formal classes began at the farm in the summer of 2011.
Our programming and community have continued to grow. We started a small business, UGArden Herbs, selling medicinal teas and spice blends from our organic herb plot. We built relationships with Campus Kitchen, Concrete Jungle, and Fresh Express to share our produce with the broader community. We’ve hosted dozens of research projects, hundreds of tour groups, and thousands of students over the course of what feels like a few short years.