Mother Earth Living

Urban Gardening 101: Sustainable Agriculture Programs and Community Gardening

Having outgrown their neighborhood starter beds, urban garden programs are putting down roots in colleges, universities and national organizations.
By Jennifer Kongs
January/February 2011
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A Growing Power volunteer waters crops at a Chicago urban garden.
Photo Courtesy Growing Power


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Having outgrown their neighborhood starter beds, urban garden programs are putting down roots in colleges, universities and national organizations.

Joe College 

More and more colleges and universities offer degree and certificate programs in sustainable or urban agriculture. Not just about growing plants, many also have an eye toward urban development, business savvy, and food and nutrition politics.

Atlanta: The University of Georgia’s Atlanta Urban Gardening Program offers “more than just planting a seed and watching it grow. It’s about growing communities, training new leaders, feeding the hungry and homeless, establishing farmer’s markets and working with youth and adults through gardening,”  says director Bobby Wilson.

Kansas City: Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, offers a Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship Certificate, geared toward helping students launch sustainable agriculture businesses.

Nationwnide: Internships and apprenticeships offer hands-on sustainable agriculture education. Check out the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service state-by-state internship list at www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/internships. World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms also offers apprenticeships: www.wwoofusa.org (United States) and www.wwoof.org (international).

Farmer Joe 

Growing demand for easier access to fresh, local foods has spawned community gardening groups in almost every city.

Chicago: Chicago-based nonprofit Growing Power offers “hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of community food systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.” 

New York City: Just Food provides training and leadership development to build diverse partnerships that “advance dialogue and action on farming, hunger and nutrition.”

Nationwide: Beginning Farmers compiles information on a broad range of urban farming and gardening issues, ideas, activities, events, organizations and networks. It provides a list of local resources for people who want to support and participate in urban gardening activities. Local cooperative extension offices may also offer training programs and opportunities.








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