The Grow Lab is an outdoor classroom and laboratory, a hub for community engagement, and a space for experiential and service–learning.
The Grow Lab is a garden meant to serve the UTK campus community. The purpose of the UTK Grow Lab is to demonstrate ecological food production methods, address local food insecurity, contribute to a sense of place, and encourage interdisciplinary partnerships.
At the Grow Lab, half of the plots are designated for specific academic courses, research, and university groups. The remaining plots are maintained by staff and volunteers with produce donated to hunger-alleviating causes like Smokey’s Pantry and the Love Kitchen.
The Grow Lab got its start in August 2017 when 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.
To date, the Grow Lab has served as an academic space for 6 classes and has produced more than 600 pounds of fresh veggies that have been donated to area food kitchens.
The Grow Lab is located at 2019 Terrace Avenue.