Back in 2008, a group of UH representatives showed up in an Urban Harvest gardening class to get direction on starting a community garden. Four years later, that simple encounter has grown into a strong partnership and a flourishing campus community garden. This green alliance between UH and Urban Harvest has recently been renewed and will continue to bring deepened understanding of gardening, health and sustainability to all who participate in the programs.

Gary Edmondson, Director of Education for Urban Harvest, said that soon after the initial introduction, they discovered the University of Houston and Urban Harvest were both in need of some assistance � University of Houston needed help on starting a new community garden and Urban Harvest needed a location for gardening classes.

�This was the beginning of our collaboration. Now we routinely visit the garden and give advice on what and how to grow vegetables. Additionally, we have been contacted by various classes at the university and given opportunities to talk about gardening to students of architecture, education and nutrition. For the past two years we have had our annual fruit tree sale at Robertson Stadium. We are grateful to the university for its role in promoting gardening education and sustainability in Houston,� Edmondson said.

Urban Harvest is a nonprofit organization in Houston that �promotes healthy communities, sound nutrition and respect for the environment by educating children and adults and facilitating harvest and habitat gardens� according to Edmondson. The organization accomplishes these goals through their programs involving community gardens, education and farmers markets.

As part of the partnership, Urban Harvest continues to meet weekly with the Office of Sustainability as a consultant on the campus community garden. Also, each month Urban Harvest contributes to the Administration and Finance monthly newsletter to share tips and information on gardening. In exchange, the University of Houston provides classroom space for gardening classes.

More than 100 classes are taught each year by Urban Harvest in all aspects of gardening, sustainability and urban farming with the University of Houston hosting several of these classes. Adult class subjects include building a vegetable and fruit garden, fruits and fruit tree care, planning a seasonal garden as well as classes on herbs, composting, pest management and a series discussing all aspects of organically growing vegetables.
Urban Harvest also hosts sustainability classes including a Permaculture Series that will teach what permaculture offers to those interested in a sustainable lifestyle. Permaculture is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. The classes are offered in the fall, winter and spring each year and end in a graduation and certification in permaculture.

In addition to these courses, Urban Harvest also hosts youth gardening classes primarily for Houston elementary schools to give youth hands-on experience in gardening and preparing nutritious food. The organization also hosts several farmers markets throughout the city and assists groups with establishing and maintaining community gardens.

For a full list of upcoming Urban Harvest classes, visit their website and check the calendar of classes. UH students, faculty and staff are eligible for discounts on classes. For more information on Urban Harvest, visit www.urbanharvest.org.