The Soiled Hands Learning Garden is a collaboration between the UC Office of Sustainability and Early Learning Center. Its mission is to engage students of all ages in experiential environmental education, foster interest in gardening and sustainable land use, and build community, all while inspiring deeper connections with nature.
The UC Early Learning Center Children's Garden was founded in 2005 as a collaboration between the Center and the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati. The UC Early Learning Center provides daycare for UC faculty and staff as well as community members, for children 3 months to 5 years. The garden was created to provide hands-on nature education for the children.
In 2010, UC students, faculty, and the Office of Sustainability developed a new collaboration with the UC Early Learning Center to expand and improve the Children's Garden so that it could become a more active environmental education opportunity for both the daycare children and UC students.
In October 2010, a charrette was held and UC students, faculty, and staff worked with UCELC children, parents, and staff to learn about urban agriculture and organic gardening and then create a vision for what the garden could become. Several work days in Autumn and Winter terms drew dozens of volunteers who helped build raised beds out of reclaimed ash wood, create a path and planting mounds, clear the site, and plant a small orchard.
The 5000 sq. ft. space is now the first garden on the Uptown Campus that allows UC students to have hands-on experience with urban agriculture and early childhood education. Already several student groups and class projects have become a part of this exciting project. For more information or to volunteer, please contact the UC Office of Sustainability's Assistant Sustainability Coordinator MJ Shepherd.
The UC Urban Farm was founded in 2009 as part of the City of Cincinnati's Urban Gardening Pilot Program. UC students, faculty, and staff, through the Center for Sustaining the Urban Environment, created the garden and staffed it through a combination of paid co-ops and volunteers. The UC Urban Farm was located in Westwood, about 3 miles west of the Uptown Campus.
In 2010, the garden was returned to the City and management was taken over by a local group, allowing a refugee community living in Westwood to garden on the site.