The Arboretum supports a one-acre community garden that was started February 21, 2009. Since that time hundreds of volunteers have donated thousands of hours to help make the garden a success. The predominately student-run garden welcomes all of the UCF and Orlando community to come and dig in the dirt, learn about plants and grow their own food. The garden is open to everyone. Portions of the produce currently go to Student and Community volunteers. The garden is open to partnerships with organizations and accepts donations of all kinds, including organic plants, seeds, mulch and fertilizers. Please contact us if you are interested in making such a donation.
THE GARDEN’S JOURNEY When a plot of land was granted for use as our garden, it was barren: an expanse of mulch and concrete debris. We leveled the area, and over the years we have added large amount of compost to amend the originally bare and sandy soil. The garden now fosters a diversity of seasonal crops, including tomatoes, lettuce, melons and cucumbers, broccoli, onions, sunflowers and a plethora of medicinal and culinary herbs. To accommodate the harsh summer months, the garden is planted with okra, eggplant, peanuts, black-eyed peas, red-drop hibiscus, and collards. Midway through summer 2011, a deer fence was erected around the garden to protect our tasty crops from the large and hungry deer population on campus. At the start of 2011 we began research on companion plants through the Research and Mentoring Program.
EDUCATION The garden hosts educational and volunteer projects for schools, groups of all ages, and children: past groups have included the UCF Creative Preschool, BoysTown, and various summer camps. Group members learn practical skills while engaging in garden activities. As stated in UCF’s mission, “Education is more than classroom experience;” education encompasses the outside world. If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please view our volunteer schedule or email us. Click Here for a copy of the Community Garden Brochure.
CULINARY BOTANY This course seeks to explore cultural food traditions and the connections between plants, people and health. It examines the preparation methods that enhance the nutritional value of the food. This course partners with the UCF Arboretum by growing some of these exotic cultural species in the Community Garden on campus.