A veteran works in a vegetable farm during an Armed to Urban Farm training.

Connecting people and agriculture is a critical need. We face challenges in feeding our growing population, and most Americans lack of exposure to agriculture and food production. With ever more people living in urban areas, understanding agriculture through an urban lens can provide both a connection and an educational opportunity. Since the U.S. Botanic Garden’s creation 200 years ago, one of the Garden’s primary functions has been growing and demonstrating plants to tell the story of agriculture and economic plants to the public.

Using our own urban setting and building on our long history of growing plants and educating people about them, the USBG is:

  • Working to promote science and environmental learning through sustainable agriculture in urban settings;
  • Supporting health and well-being in urban communities by increasing food access through local food production;
  • Fostering community engagement through meaningful connections with food and agriculture.

By building a network of organizations helping with food production and education across the country, the Garden is strengthening people’s capacity to transform their lives, institutions, and communities through engagement in urban agriculture.

Read below to learn more about the U.S. Botanic Garden’s urban agriculture work.


Two men and one woman pick leafy greens in a gardenUrban Agriculture Resilience Program

Seven botanic gardens are receiving support to build capacity and leadership in urban agriculture through a partnership of the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), the American Public Gardens Association (Association), and Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG). The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program Capstone program awarded each garden $50,000 along with one-on-one mentoring support to sustain and institutionalize each garden’s urban agriculture work. Additionally, the group will meet quarterly as a cohort for training throughout 2023, including a two-day, in-person training at CBG’s Windy City Harvest program. 

Recipients of the Capstone awards are: 

  • Atlanta Botanical Garden, Georgia 
  • Desert Botanical Garden, Arizona 
  • Garfield Park Conservatory and Gardens, Illinois 
  • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Minnesota 
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Pennsylvania 
  • Queens Botanical Garden, New York 
  • University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Garden and Nichols Arboretum, Michigan

The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program began in 2020 as a way for the USBG and the Association to help public gardens continue urban agriculture and food growing programs facing funding and capacity challenges due to COVID-19. The program was expanded in 2021 and 2022 to support community engagement in urban agriculture education and food growing through collaborations between public gardens and local community organizations. Since its inception, the program has provided financial awards to 80 urban agriculture projects in 30 states and Washington, D.C.

The USBG and CBG have collaborated for five years to build capacity in urban agriculture at public gardens and partner organizations through development of an Urban Agriculture Toolkit and related trainings online and in person around the country.

Learn about the 2020 Urban Agriculture Resilience Program,the 2021 Program, and the 2022 Program >

See the all awardees of Urban Agriculture Resilience Program 2020 to present:

Learn about the 2020 Urban Agriculture Resilience Program >

Learn about the 2021 Urban Agriculture Resilience Program >

Learn about the 2022 Urban Agriculture Resilience Program >


Veterans constructing a greenhouseTraining Veterans in Urban Farming as a Career

The USBG and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) have partnered to create week-long Armed to Urban Farm sustainable agriculture trainings for veterans and their farm partners. Armed to Urban Farm gives military veterans an opportunity to experience sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and learn about urban farming as a career. Armed to Urban Farm, which is based on NCAT's popular Armed to Farm program, combines engaging classroom sessions with farm tours and hands-on activities. Participants learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, urban soils, land access, vegetable production, and more. Participants gain a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farming enterprise. In addition, attendees join a nationwide network of supportive farmer-veterans and agricultural advisors.

Previous workshops:

  • Memphis, TN - October 2022
  • Baltimore, MD - September 2021
  • Cleveland - September 2019
  • Washington, D.C. - September 2018

Learn more about the Armed to Urban Farm program and upcoming training opportunities


Urban Ag Toolkit coverBuilding Urban Ag Capacity at Public Gardens

The U.S. Botanic Garden has partnered with Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest, an established urban agriculture program within the public gardens community, to develop a train-the-trainer program and urban agriculture toolkit. This collaboration provides hands-on, practical support for public gardens and their partner organizations interested in developing or expanding urban agriculture programming. Based on feedback from other gardens, the collaboration has designed and offered three-day intensive urban agriculture workshops for public garden professionals and their partners. Information and resources from these workshops is compiled in the Building Capacity for Urban Agriculture Programs Toolkit.

The workshops and toolkit incorporate topics such as designing urban agriculture programs, developing community partnerships, selecting and establishing urban farm sites, cultivating donors and identifying funding opportunities, and evaluating and communicating program successes. 

Previous workshops:

  • 2021 Virtual Workshop: July 2021-December 2021
  • New Orleans - March 2020
  • Chicago - August 2019


Greenhouse Manual coverGreenhouse Manual and Trainings for Educators

The U.S. Botanic Garden, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and City Blossoms recognized the emerging need for user-friendly guidance on operating educational greenhouses and maximizing their potential in school settings. The partners developed an introductory manual for educators wanting to better use new or existing greenhouses for programming. The manual clearly and concisely lays out a basic understanding of greenhouses, how to integrate them into lessons, and how to effectively use greenhouses in classroom curricula and out-of-school activities.

The manual includes lesson plans as well as basic information on layout and operations of a greenhouse, growing plants (especially during the school year), growing from seed, seedling nutrition, identifying and treating diseases, pest management in greenhouses, basic budgeting, and succession planting.

This useful resource will help facilitate transformative learning experiences in schools nationwide, while cultivating students' appreciation of the importance of plants.

Download the manual [PDF] >

USBG Greenhouse Manual

Learn more about this partnership and manual


Report: The Role of Botanic Gardens in Urban Agriculture

The U.S. Botanic Garden and the American Public Gardens Association undertook this study to identify viable urban agriculture program models that are self-sustaining and environmentally, socially, and economically enriching, and to better understand how public gardens could achieve meaningful impact. The research used a three-pronged approach to evaluate the state of urban agriculture at community-based nonprofit and for-profit organizations, government agencies, universities, and public gardens. Insights were gained by exploring literature, surveying the community of practice, and interviewing practitioners and experts about urban agriculture initiatives and related educational programming.

Download the report [PDF] >


Corn grows in the Kitchen Garden with the Conservatory and Capitol dome behindOnline Food and Agriculture Programs

As part of our ongoing educational programming, we offer periodic online programs about food and agriculture, including programs specifically focused on the urban environment.

Find upcoming programs at www.USBG.gov/Programs

The USBG Kitchen Garden

The USBG Kitchen Garden demonstrates food growing in an urban setting, with tours, tastings, workshops, and children’s activities. The fruits and vegetables from the Garden are used for educational classes and cooking demonstrations, and excess produce is donated to local community-based hunger relief organizations.

Find the Kitchen Garden in Bartholdi Fountain and Gardens