UGArden is much more than just a few plots of vegetables. It’s a labor of love. Located a few miles outside the main University of Georgia campus, UGArden since 2010 has provided students with an opportunity to learn about sustainable, organic food production—and to develop their own community around a shared love of working in the dirt.
While the garden does employ a few full-time staff, most of the work is done by a dedicated force of volunteers—both UGA students and members of the Athens community—and it relies on public donations to cover the costs of seed, fertilizer, plants and other supplies.
In addition to providing a hands-on opportunity for students to learn about sustainable farming, UGArden also serves to encourage their inner entrepreneurs; volunteers get a chance to sell some of the garden’s produce in onsite farmer’s markets.
But not everything goes for sale—much of UGArden’s bounty is given to local food banks through Campus Kitchen at UGA, part of a growing network of university Campus Kitchens that work to address food insecurity. In 2021, UGArden donated more than 5,600 pounds of produce with the help of 162 volunteers. Since it was founded 12 years ago, the garden has donated more than 100,000 pounds of food to the Athens community.