About the Community Garden

History of the Garden

The UIS Campus Community Garden started out as a group project for ENS 271: Introduction to Sustainability in Fall 2016. Students in the class created a comprehensive plan and budget for the garden. In Spring 2016, the students solicited donations and worked with the UIS Grounds Crew and faculty adviser Dr. Megan Styles (Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies) to make their plan a reality.

The garden officially opened on April 29, 2016. Since then, more than 200 volunteers have worked in the garden, and we have produced more than 400 pounds of fresh, delicious, healthy produce.

View a short Leadership Lived interview video with Liz Rupel, one of the environmental studies majors who helped start the garden.

Typical Harvest

Design of the Garden

The garden features raised beds, which help us control weeds and give us better drainage. We also have five compost bins, two wooden compost bins near the front of the garden and three in-ground compost bins inside the garden. Our in-ground compost bins are made from 5-gallon buckets, which we buried in the garden. Holes drilled in the sides of the buckets allow worms to pass through the compost material, which helps the material decompose and “cook” faster.

Most of our plants are heirloom varieties provided by Seeds Savers Exchange. By planting heirloom seeds we help preserve plant varieties that are in danger of disappearing. Seed Savers is working with gardeners worldwide to help conserve the genetic diversity of our garden seed stock. In Spring 2017, the UIS Grounds Crew built us a fantastic new greenhouse, which we use to start our plants from seed.

For safety and environmental reasons, our garden is chemical-free. If we need to treat a pest problem or add fertility to the soil, we use only products that meet organic production standards.

Garden Location

The UIS Community Garden is located near the Shepherd House (see the map below). Parking is available in the Shepherd House lot, but out of respect for the house’s current tenant, the Illinois Historical Society, we ask that you park on the grass between the trees in the center island, rather than directly in front of the house. Please do not drive back to the garden unless you have permission from the garden coordinator.

Map of Location
A map showing the location of the UIS Community Garden in relation to the Shepard House.

Garden Sponsors & Donations

The greater Springfield community has contributed generously to the garden. Chancellor Koch’s office contributed funding for a deer fence. Habitat for Humanity donated wood to create raised beds. Staff members from two local non-profit organizations, Grow Springfield and genHkids, provided valuable advice about how to design a successful community garden.

Seeds Savers Exchange provided us with a box of heirloom seeds. The UIS Grounds Crew helped us start our seeds in the campus greenhouse, prepared the ground for the garden, and installed the deer fence. Our first Go-Fund-Me campaign also raised almost $500 to help us buy tools, soil, and other garden supplies.

The Environmental Studies Department has also provided funds for tools and snacks for volunteer work nights. Donations are always welcome, but what we want most is to spend time with you in the garden.