The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Hero image

A canna lily shines in the foreground, and acres of blooms beam beyond it, within Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens, which offer joy for visitors and research findings for growers.

Growing with intention

Gardens on Ohio State campuses extend to prairies, woodlands and plant collections, cultivating a community where education, research and peace are rooted in its core. These eight fixtures are part of a universe of gardens budding with possibilities and inspiration for their gardeners and visitors.

A flower in bloom at Chadwick Arboretum

Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Garden
West Campus, Columbus

A person picks a strawberry at the Unity Fridge garden

The Unity Fridge project
Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory

A person picks produce at the Hope Gardens

The Hope Gardens
Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory

A person holding kohlrabi

Ross Heart Hospital Community Garden
Howlett Hall greenhouse

A child eats vegetables in a garden

Preschool Garden
Ohio State Child Care Program, Ackerman Road, Columbus

Poinsettias in a greenhouse

Horticulture Complex
Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute, Wooster

Autumn leaves

EcoLab woodlands
Ohio State Mansfield


Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens 

West Campus, Columbus

Flowers and a lake where people are paddling in canoes
Expand icon

Arboretum North hosts an annual open house at which visitors can canoe, cast a fishing line, meet master gardeners and entomologists, and socialize. 

On 62 acres of green reserve, more than 20 stunning collections and gardens comprise Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens. Since it took root in 1981, Chadwick has held firm to a land-grant mission by creating opportunities for education and research through its three sections: the Learning Gardens, Arboretum North and the Lane Avenue Gardens. Through the years, Chadwick has evolved to become a retreat where nature, education, community and relaxation converge.

“We have small pockets of urban respite for students to come and unwind — to walk near a woods, to walk near a pond, to be on a green roof and to wander through the natural world. It’s required!” Mary Maloney ’79, director of Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens

Explore more

Take a virtual tour of Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens or visit in person. The gardens are open year-round, and admission is free. Pay-n-Display parking is available in surrounding parking lots.

LEARN MORE

The Unity Fridge project

Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory

Three people explore produce in a garden
Expand icon

Linden-McKinley STEM High School students Aneysa Brown, right, and Akiya Friar work with Maggie Griffin ’17, left, during an excursion to the Unity Fridge garden. The students devised creative solutions to business challenges the farm faces — such as the need to quickly transport harvested crops.

This half-acre farm flourishes with fruits and vegetables to stock a community fridge that supplies crops for underserved families and outreach programs in the Columbus area. The Unity Fridge project began when Maggie Griffin, now a graduate student in social work, earned a 2017 President’s Prize, which helps Ohio State graduating seniors envision and implement positive social change. By pairing with organizations throughout the community, the project serves dozens of families and provides educational opportunities for students at local high schools and Ohio State.

“Unity Fridge benefits a population in Columbus that may not have health care or the resources or social determinants of health that they need. So, not only are participants picking up produce and learning recipes, but they also have an opportunity to seek social support.” Taylor Ollis ’11, clinical research coordinator at Moms2B, a program of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and a graduate student in social work

Explore Maggie's story

The Unity Fridge project is the creation of Maggie Griffin ’17, who took her idea of community fridges that would be placed in neighborhoods around Columbus and transformed it into a President's Prize and a thriving program that delivered almost 1,000 pounds of fresh produce in its first four months.

LEARN MORE

Hope Gardens

Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory

A woman holds corn in a garden
Expand icon

Cancer survivor Kathy Bruner harvests corn at the Garden of Hope, where free produce is available to those who have experienced the disease and their primary caregivers.

Two women talk in the Hope Garden
Expand icon

Amy Barr, left, Hope Gardens program coordinator, helps cancer survivor Cindy Reeves harvest a potato.

Two women talk in the Hope Garden
Expand icon

Angela Taylor, left, an Ohio State University staff member and a cancer survivor, shares some quality time with daughter Xyla.

The Hope Gardens began with a 3-acre plot on Waterman farm, called the Garden of Hope, which provides adult cancer survivors with an array of vegetables, fruits and herbs containing cancer-fighting properties. While the original plot and purpose remain, the size and goal have expanded. Today, the Hope Gardens provide produce and support to adult and child cancer survivors as well as Columbus-area residents in need. In addition, the research offers evidence-based nutrition guidelines while also furthering cancer research and service learning for Ohio State students.

“The Hope Gardens are a national model for land-grant universities that promote crop to clinic to community research, outreach and education. In our living laboratories, we have agriculture, medicine and a prestigious cancer center all working together to serve our community. ” Colleen Spees ’87, ’11 PhD, an associate professor of medical dietetics who studies how high-risk populations benefit from improving dietary and physical activity patterns

Explore more

Read more about the research fueling the Hope Gardens, watch a cooking demo and learn how you can support research.

LEARN MORE

Ross Heart Hospital Community Garden

Howlett Hall greenhouse

People talk to one another at the Ross Heart Hospital Community Garden
Expand icon

Teeming with the ingredients for heart-friendly recipes, the Ross garden also gives participants such as Judy Coleman, Joe Coleman and Ed Rogers (facing away) a chance to visit. 

Bowls of vegetables and grains
Expand icon

Participants celebrated the end of a program with healthy food and recipes.

A woman holds a head of lettuce
Expand icon

Cindy Ryan holds a head of lettuce harvested from the garden.

Prepared and planted by students in a sustainable vegetable production class, the Ross Heart Hospital Community Garden provides a bounty of vegetables and herbs for several dozen heart patients all summer long. Patients and caregivers can sign up for free weekly classes featuring nutrition guidance, cooking demos and health advice. Once the produce begins to ripen in May, participants harvest it from raised beds (a safer option for people with heart ailments) and head home with fresh veggies, herbs and inspiration.

“Where else could you have a staff like this — that grows the food, prepares it and instructs you in how to do what they’ve done — in a small, intimate setting like this? It’s just wonderful that the university supports this.” Joe Coleman​, gardener

Explore more

The Ohio State Ross Heart Hospital Garden is open to patients, caregivers and community members. In addition to fresh produce, the garden offers free cooking classes May through September, such as Healthy and Inspiralizing Pasta, Veggies for Breakfast! and Skinny Southern Cooking.

LEARN MORE

Preschool Garden

Ohio State Child Care Program, Ackerman Road, Columbus

A boy picks a tomato from a vine
Expand icon

Four-year-old Oliver Walter picks a tomato in the garden, which preschoolers and their parents plant each June during a “garden party.”

“This one’s green!” a budding gardener shouts with glee as he pops a small tomato from the vine into his mouth. Along with this favorite munchie, the Preschool Garden yields cucumbers, onions and peppers and fulfills a garden-to-table concept started 10 years ago to teach preschoolers where their food originates. Planted and harvested by the children, the garden also imparts observation skills and information on the life cycle of nature while introducing the youngsters to healthful foods. But ask the kids the most rewarding part? Eating the fruits of their labor, of course.

“The garden tells the kids that their food doesn’t just appear in the grocery store. For most of these children, who don’t have access to a farm or garden, that is important. They learn that our food comes from somewhere.” Kathy McNutt ’81, teacher and founder of the garden

Horticulture Complex

Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute, Wooster

Poinsettias in a greenhouse
Expand icon

Poinsettias begin their life cycle in April, growing for the better part of a year in preparation for the annual Wooster campus holiday plant sale.

Students interested in careers in plant production and retail gain valuable know-how raising and caring for flora in six greenhouses, an outdoor nursery production area and multiple gardens — which produce nearly 25,000 plants for campus learning gardens. In December, the students manage an annual poinsettia sale to benefit the Horticulture Complex, giving them experience in retail sales and their customers beautiful plants for the holidays.

“My favorite part is getting the opportunity to have an influence on the next generation of people going into horticulture. I get to coach them.” Nathan Donley ’10, greenhouse and nursery manager

Larry R. Yoder Prairie Learning Laboratory

Ohio State Marion

Fire management students learn to control a prairie fire
Expand icon

Each student in the fire management class burns a small part of the prairie, gaining experience with starting and extinguishing the blaze.

Prairie grasses in a field
Expand icon

The Yoder prairie was conceived in the mid-1970s and has grown to more than 11 acres.

Milkweed in a prairie
Expand icon

The prairie hosts species native to Ohio, such as this elegant milkweed bursting with delicate beauty.

This tall-grass prairie is the product of a restoration project born in the mid-1970s when former Assistant Professor Larry Yoder led his students to collect seeds at a nearby prairie in danger of being eliminated. It has since grown to more than 11 acres and continues to fulfill its mission of preserving species native to Ohio while serving as a peaceful destination for residents and a learning laboratory for students. To weed out invasive species and keep the prairie from becoming a forest, a wildland fire management class carries out an annual prescribed fire that also provides students with a wildland firefighter certification.

“This is a win-win situation. Our students get the prescribed burning experience and learn how to manage a controlled fire, and Marion gets to have the prairie burned for restoration, showing how fire is an integral part of prairie ecosystems.” Roger Williams ’77, ’79 MS, associate professor of forest ecosystem analysis and management

Explore more

Plan a hike, picnic or some wildlife viewing and bird watching at the Yoder prairie at Ohio State Marion. Bonus: Dogs are welcome, too.

PLAN A VISIT

EcoLab woodland

Ohio State Mansfield

Students walk through a wooded area
Expand icon

Trails and paths dissect the EcoLab woodland to give Ohio State Mansfield students a scenic retreat on their way to and from classes. 

Fungus and moss on a tree
Expand icon

Ohio State University Extension's Woodland Stewards Program attracts landowners and natural resources professionals from across the state to gain skills such as tree identification and pest management.

Students walk through a forested path
Expand icon

The woodland comprises 600 forested acres in Mansfield.

This sprawling 600-acre woodlands, acquired in 1964, offers learning experiences for students and the public alike. Among the diverse tree species, some are more than 100 years old, while other areas have grown up on former crop and pasture lands in the past 50 years. Today, students learn how to produce maple syrup in one of several capstone courses that make use of the forest. And Ohio State University Extension’s Woodland Stewards Program attracts landowners and natural resource professionals from across the state to gain skills such as tree identification and pest management.

“Students get exposed to the natural environment and get excited about how they can impact it and how we can benefit by becoming better stewards of this resource." Kathy Smith ’85, ’89 MS, director of the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, Ohio State University Extension

Explore more

The EcoLab is a living laboratory for research, learning and pilot programs like the Micro Farm, an experiment in raised-bed planting that could deliver fresh produce to communities that have no grocery stores.

LEARN MORE