Community Gardening

This collection of (data pages? wiki pages? web pages?) has been compiled to describe: (click the link to navigate to page)
  1. A general ethical mandate for community gardening as it pertains to a definition of strong sustainability.
  2. Whether the University of Kentucky has aligned with this ethical mandate and how.
  3. How the University of Kentucky can improve its alignment with this mandate.

An appendix of contact information for selected community gardening programs in the area as well as other related organizations will be provided as well.

Is there An Ethical Mandate for Community Gardening?

The ethic of community gardens lies in its goals and purposes; The framework and design of community gardens can greatly differ, however their main goals are usually the same: to grow something useful and/or beautiful, and to do it with other people in community.

How do Community Gardens and the Ethical Mandate Tie Back in to Sustainability?

Community gardens serve as a great groundwork for the three pillars of sustainability: social justice, economic vitality, and stewardship of the land.

Social Justice

Socially, community gardens tend to foster healthy relationships and serve as a bridge across social classes. Everyone needs to eat, and there are several health benefits to eating food you’ve grown. Also, a community garden has the opportunity to lean more heavily into the social aspect of sustainability if you choose to design in a more charitable framework. Several community gardens have been designed and created to feed hungry families in “food deserts,” which are industrialized areas where healthy affordable food is difficult to obtain, to feed the homeless, and to simply make a local common area more beautiful for all to enjoy.


Community gardens are very economic. They serve as a great alternative to weekly grocery runs, especially when considering the price of fresh, organic produce. As a business, community gardens can be flexible and creative. There are several different styles of community gardens: Some have paid gardeners that sell food for profit. Another structure sells plots of land at the beginning of the season and allows gardeners to grow whatever they want along with several other gardeners and their plots. Whether you’re building a community garden as a profit making business or working with some friends on a neighbors back yard garden, by dividing the work and growing your own food, community gardens are usually extremely economical.


While some groups definitely approach community gardens with an agenda to protect and preserve the land, often times participators stumble upon the ethical, responsibility pillar of sustainability as they discover that taking good care of the land, will ultimately lead to a healthier life for themselves. Wendell Berry talked about a new standard in environmental ethics that includes both the neighbors and the neighborhood as essential parts to community. He explains on page 97 of his essay, “The Body and the Earth,” that everything is connected and you really can’t treat the land badly without hurting yourself.

University Support

Through partnerships with the University of Kentucky Sustainable Agriculture program and the Office of Sustainability, funding is allocated to a community garden at the Greg Page Shawneetown student housing complexes. The funding supports a student intern that manages the garden. As part of the management of the garden, the student intern aids allotment holders in their gardening endeavors. The university also makes available equipment and machinery that are needed for primary tillage. Professors and graduate students from the department of entomology also are available for support and consultation regarding insect pest problems as they arise.

Student Leadership
external image student2.JPG
external image student2.JPG

The garden at Greg Page Shawneetown was an undergraduate Gaines Fellow jury project. A student identified a need in the community for access to fresh local and culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables. Through two summers from planning to passing it on to a fully funded intern, Christine K. worked diligently to connect with community members and get them the resources they needed to be successful gardeners.

The student interns make University of Kentucky Extension publications available to allotment holders. Two examples include Gardening in Small Spaces and Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky

The second growing season of these gardens, the University of Kentucky approved the expansion of the allotments. The new intern DOUBLED the number of available allotments by tilling two new fields. The total area now includes 4,000 square feet of garden space.

The Student Sustainability Council provides a grant of $1000 per year to ensure adequate infrastructure support is provided. This money is used for fencing, tools, signage and necessary expenditures through the garden season.

University of Kentucky students, staff and faculty volunteer at times throughout the season as needs arise. A student this year shared seeds left over from planting her own garden to ensure allotment holders were able to have diverse garden plots.


Based on available space and continued interest, the University of Kentucky would like to expand community gardens throughout campus in the coming years.

Points of Improvement

The University of Kentucky has accepted a Policy on Sustainability and thus recognizes the ethical mandate for programs that promote and uphold the triple bottom line of sustainability. A small program that can move us toward that goal is community gardening. Though UK has a community gardening program it pales in comparison to some of the programs run by local members of the community; members with fewer resources and less funding. By highlighting some of the programs within the community, we hope to see UK set its sights higher and involve more members of campus in this potentially culture changing program.

Organization Name



Mission Statement:
“Seedleaf nourishes communities by: growing, cooking, sharing, and recycling food so that we can increase the amount, affordability, nutritional value, and sustainability of food available to people at risk of hunger in central Kentucky.
We carry out this work through:
  • garden installation & maintenance
  • community-wide composting
  • cooking demonstrations
  • food preservation workshops
  • distribution of healthy food
  • hands-on garden education
  • community involvement.”
“Faith Feeds seeks to alleviate hunger in Kentucky through provision of fresh fruits and vegetables to people who are hungry. This mission is to be achieved by:

1. Gleaning produce for distribution to hunger ministries, and encouraging other
to donate a portion of food they grow to such ministries;
2. Participating in “community kitchen” events to preserve excess produce for later
3. Initiating and maintaining gardens on urban in-fill; and
4. Teaching people how to grow food”
“Our Mission
Sustainable Communities Network is dedicated to contributing to the development of the theory and practice of sustainable living. SCN seeks to provide the ideas, programs and tools that inspire community members to bring about systemic changes in all of our institutions that are necessary to create sustainable cities.
We endeavor to:
  • EDUCATE the broadest range of community members about the environmental issues facing our world and the benefits of making sustainable choices
  • BUILD a critical mass of community members that unites our individual concerns into collective action.
  • CREATE a network that encourages and supports the work of creating sustainable communities
  • INSPIRE environmental stewardship, personal responsibility, leadership, systems thinking & cooperation.
  • EMPOWER our communities to become part of the sustainability movement.”

Contact Information:
PO Box 4448
Lexington, KY 40544
859-444-4769 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 859-444-4769 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Link to Homepage:
Community Gardens
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  • Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden:
Getting to you garden is easy, inexpensive and environmentally mindful when you use public transportation!
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