An outdoor classroom and laboratory, a hub for community engagement, and a space for experiential and service–learning.
The Grow Lab got its start in August 2017 when UT Sustainability (then UT Recycling) hired a food systems coordinator, but its roots go much deeper. Students on campus have been involved in gardening projects and initiatives for years. After some past projects struggled with high turnover and garden maintenance, the administration was hesitant to support another campus garden. However, after nine months of careful planning, shareholder meetings, the creation of an advisory board, and the hiring of a student garden manager, the Grow Lab was approved by the Campus Planning and Design Committee and given initial funding through the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee.
The Grow Lab is an outdoor classroom and laboratory, a hub for community engagement, and a space for experiential and service–learning. Some of the plots are managed by our student garden manager with produce donated to Big Orange Pantry, a campus food pantry dedicated to serving students, faculty, and staff. The rest of plots are reserved by specific courses and organizations for semester-long projects and research.
Although the Grow Lab started as a UT Sustainability project, it has expanded to include multiple partners in offices, departments, and student groups across campus.
Proud Grow Lab Partners
- UT Recycling
- UT Facilities Services
- Smokey’s Pantry
- Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville (SPEAK)
- Environmental Studies Program
- Office of Service–Learning
- Office of Sustainability
- Beardsley Community Farm
- UT Culinary Institute
- Department of Plant Sciences
- International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS)
- Department of Nutrition
- Slow Food Tennessee Valley
- UT Seed Library
- Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
- UT Extension