All outdoor gardens are currently open. The Conservatory and public restrooms remain closed, due to the closure of the U.S. Capitol campus buildings. Please monitor www.USBG.gov for updates on operating status. USBG resources can be accessed online, including educational materials, virtual tours, and online programs by visiting www.USBG.gov/AtHome.
Urban Agriculture at the U.S. Botanic Garden
Agriculture is the cornerstone of human survival. The more than 7.8 billion people alive in the world today depend on plants for food, clothing, shelter, energy, medicine, and other critical resources. Since the U.S. Botanic Garden's creation 200 years ago, one of the Garden's primary functions has been growing and demonstrating plants to tell the story of agriculture and economic plants to the public.
Connecting people and agriculture is a critical need given the lack of exposure to agriculture and food production for most Americans today and the great challenges that lie ahead in successfully feeding our growing populations. With ever more people living in urban areas, understanding agriculture through an urban lens can provide both a connection and an educational opportunity.
Using its urban setting and building on its long history of growing plants and educating people about them, the USBG is working to promote science and environmental learning through sustainable agriculture in urban settings; support health and wellbeing in urban communities by increasing food access through local food production; and foster community engagement through meaningful connections with food and agriculture. By building a network of organizations helping with food production and education across the country, the Garden is strengthening people's capacity to transform their lives, institutions, and communities through engagement in urban agriculture.
Read below to learn more about the U.S. Botanic Garden's urban agriculture work.
Urban Agriculture Resilience Program
The United States Botanic Garden and American Public Gardens Association are collaborating to support public gardens and their community partners engaging in urban agriculture and food-growing to address food security challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, the Urban Agriculture Resilience Program awarded $403,450 to 21 public garden partnerships across the United States that are fostering public engagement and education in urban food growing and building capacity in urban agriculture programs.
The awards will help participating programs in 16 states and Washington, D.C. integrate urban food growing and education while addressing food security challenges facing their communities. The program seeks to leverage the strength of public gardens working with partners in their communities, ranging from schools, universities, and urban farms to food pantries, community gardens, local government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program is providing new insight into successful approaches and future opportunities for public gardens and their partners to creatively utilize their unique assets to advance food and agriculture education in urban communities.
The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program began in 2020 as a way for the USBG and the Association to help public gardens continue urban agriculture and food growing programs facing funding and capacity challenges due to COVID-19. Learn about the 2020 Urban Agriculture Resilience Program >
Public garden and community partner collaborations awarded 2021 funding include:
Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, in collaboration with Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and Community Kitchens
* Desert Botanical Garden, in collaboration with Unlimited Potential, TigerMountain Foundation, The Orchard Community Learning Center, and Roosevelt School District
* The Gardens on Spring Creek, in collaboration with Food Bank for Larimer County
* Delaware Center for Horticulture, in collaboration with Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
District of Columbia
* Friends of the National Arboretum, in collaboration with the U.S. National Arboretum
* Atlanta Botanical Garden, in collaboration with Friends of Refugees and Global Growers Network
* Trees Atlanta, in collaboration with the City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Resilience and the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation
* The Morton Arboretum, in collaboration with Homan Grown, Stone Temple Baptist Church, and Permaculture Chicago Teaching Institute
* University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, in collaboration with Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network D-Town Farm
* Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, in collaboration with Pillsbury United Communities, WE WIN Institute, St. Paul City Schools, Plymouth Christian Youth Center, Kaleidoscope Place, North Point Health & Wellness Center Community Food Shelf, and CAP Agency Food Shelf
* EarthDance, in collaboration with The Vine at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Restorative Justice Movement, and BTC St. Vincent's Food Pantry
* Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, in collaboration with The New York Botanical Garden, Morris Campus Farm, La Finca del Sur, and Morning Glory Community Garden
* Queens Botanical Garden, in collaboration with La Jornada Food Pantry at Queens Museum
* Ability Garden, in collaboration with New Hanover County Arboretum and Cooperative Extension, Wilmington Housing Authority
* Holden Forests & Gardens, in collaboration with Revolutionary Love Garden, Have a Hive, and Lettuce Tree Farms
* Grumblethorpe Historic House & Gardens (PhilaLandmarks), in collaboration with Chef Gail Hinson, Johnson House Historic Site, and Historic Fair Hill
* Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, in collaboration with East Park Revitalization Alliance, Neighborhood Gardens Trust
* Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, in collaboration with Homewood-Brushton YMCA
* Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, in collaboration with The Museum of Infinite Outcomes
* University of Washington Botanic Gardens, in collaboration with w@l@b?altxw - Intellectual House, UW Nutritional Sciences Program, UW Neighborhood Design/Build Studio, and UW Program on the Environment
* Friends of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, in collaboration with Wyoming Hunger Initiative
See the 2021 awardees and learn about their work:
Training Veterans in Urban Farming as a Career
The USBG and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) have partnered to create week-long Armed to Urban Farm sustainable agriculture trainings for veterans and their farm partners. Armed to Urban Farm gives military veterans an opportunity to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and learn about urban farming as a career. Armed to Urban Farm, which is based on NCAT's popular Armed to Farm program, combines engaging classroom sessions with farm tours and hands-on activities. Participants learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, urban soils, land access, vegetable production, and more. Participants gain a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farming enterprise. In addition, attendees join a nationwide network of supportive farmer-veterans and agricultural advisors.
Baltimore, MD - September 2021
Cleveland - September 2019
Washington, D.C. - September 2018
The U.S. Botanic Garden has partnered with Chicago Botanic Garden's Windy City Harvest, an established urban agriculture program within the public gardens community, to develop a train-the-trainer program and urban agriculture toolkit. This collaboration is providing hands-on, practical support for public gardens and their partner organizations interested in developing or expanding urban agriculture programming. Based on feedback from other gardens, the collaboration has designed and offered three-day intensive urban agriculture workshops for public garden professionals and their partners. Information and resources from these workshops is compiled in Building Capacity for Urban Agriculture ProgramsToolkit.
The workshops and toolkit incorporate topics such as designing urban agriculture programs, developing community partnerships, selecting and establishing urban farm sites, cultivating donors and identifying funding opportunities, and evaluating and communicating program successes.
- 2021 Virtual Workshop: July 2021-December 2021.
- Previous workshops: New Orleans - March 2020, Chicago - August 2019
Greenhouse Manual and Trainings for Educators
The U.S. Botanic Garden, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and City Blossoms recognized the emerging need for user-friendly guidance on operating educational greenhouses and maximizing their potential in the school setting. To that end, the partners developed an introductory manual for educators wanting to better use new or existing greenhouses for programming. The manual clearly and concisely lays out a basic understanding of greenhouses, how to integrate them into lessons, and how to effectively use greenhouses in classroom curricula and out-of-school activities.
The manual includes lesson plans as well as basic information on layout and operations of a greenhouse, growing plants (especially during the school year), growing from seed, seedling nutrition, identifying and treating diseases, pest management in greenhouses, basic budgeting, and succession planting.
This useful resource will help facilitate transformative learning experiences in schools nationwide, while cultivating students' appreciation of the importance of plants.
Check back for future trainings
Report: The Role of Botanic Gardens in Urban Agriculture
The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) and the American Public Gardens Association undertook this study to identify viable urban agriculture program models that are self-sustaining and environmentally, socially, and economically enriching, and to better understand how public gardens could achieve meaningful impact. The Association used a three-pronged research approach to evaluate the state of urban agriculture at community-based nonprofit and for-profit organizations, government agencies, universities, and public gardens. Insights were gained by exploring literature, surveying the community of practice, and interviewing practitioners and experts about urban agriculture initiatives and related educational programming.
Online Food and Agriculture Programs
As part of our ongoing educational programming, we offer periodic online programs about food and agriculture, including programs specifically focused on the urban environment.
Find upcoming programs at www.USBG.gov/OnlinePrograms
The USBG Kitchen Garden
The USBG Kitchen Garden demonstrates food growing in an urban setting, with tours, tastings, workshops, and children's activities . The fruits and vegetables from the Garden are used for educational classes and cooking demonstrations, and excess produce is donated to local community-based hunger relief organizations.