Center for Urban Agriculture & Gardening Education

Mission & Overview

The Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education (CUAGE) seeks to expand academic and public knowledge of sustainable farming techniques that improve food and water security. The center also seeks to improve the health and wellness of people in the local community and around the world through research and education on urban and peri-urban agroecology and gardening techniques.

CUAGE plays a key role in two global challenges: urbanization and urban food and nutritional security. The center contributes to sustainable urban development and the creation and maintenance of multifunctional urban landscapes. In the globally emerging field of urban agriculture, CUAGE collaborates in research partnerships within the university and with public and private institutions nationally and internationally.


NIFA and Student Learning Goals

Urban Food Hubs

Firebird Research Farm

Firebird Research Farm PictureFirebird Research Farm is formally named the Agricultural Experimentation Station of the District of Columbia and was established by the USDA to research and test techniques in urban agriculture that are consistent with sustainable practices. Agriculture and horticulture are usually associated with rural settings and large open spaces. Our farm focuses on adapting successful, highly efficient farming techniques to small urban spaces. Our hydroponic systems explore techniques to grow a wide variety of vegetables in nutrient-enriched water rather than soil. This growing method can generate exceptionally high yields, and is no longer limited to only microgreens, but can be used for vegetable varieties including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. The farm is managed using sustainable systems and methods that reduce strain on the environment. Our customized aquaponic systems allow us to raise fish and grow vegetables in a self-sustaining closed-loop system where fish waste is used as plant fertilizer, while the water is filtered and recycled.

Interested in a virtual presentation of UDC’s Firebird Farm?

To learn more about UDC’s Firebird Farm, check out our online demonstration in series 1 from Center Director – Che Axum and meet our staff and learn more about their upcoming research projects in series 2.

Firebird Research Farm
12001 Old Baltimore Pike
Beltsville, MD 20705


Van Ness Urban Food Hub

Van Ness Food HubThe University’s Van Ness campus is located in Ward 3. The food production component of the food hub is a 20,000-square-foot green roof that was installed on an existing roof structure. Eighteen-inch deep planters placed around the perimeter of the roof support the production of a variety of food plants, from tomatoes to peppers, beans, okra, eggplant, and even berry bushes. The interior of the roof is limited to no more than four inches of soil depth, which can support the production of leaf lettuce, microgreens, and herbs. The roof also features a greenhouse and a hydroponic system that is arranged vertically to fully utilize the limited space. The Van Ness Food Hub also incorporates an aquaponics system that combines growing fish (aquaculture) and growing vegetables without soil (hydroponics).

UDC Main Campus (Van Ness), Ward 3
4200 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008



East Capitol Urban Farm

East Capitol Urban Farm PictureEast Capitol Urban Farm is one of several urban food hubs pioneered by CAUSES to improve food security and sustainability in D.C. neighborhoods through food production, food preparation, food distribution, and waste and water management. East Capitol Urban Farm is a result of a major local, federal, public, and private alliance between CAUSES, the District of Columbia Housing Authority, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, several District of Columbia government agencies, community organizations, churches, and businesses to transform a vacant, three-acre parcel of land to become the city’s largest scale urban farm of its type. The farm increases access to local and sustainable produce for the Ward 7 community.

East Capitol Urban Farm, Ward 7
5901 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20019


Lamond-Riggs Urban Food Hub

Bertie Backus Food Hub Image of gardenThe Lamond-Riggs Food Hub (formerly the Bertic Backus Food Hub) is on the premises of UDC’s Lamond-Riggs Community College. The food hub was built on an underutilized basketball court with grants from the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) and Anacostia Economic Development Cooperation (AEDC). The food hub has aquaponic and hydroponic systems, a native plant nursery, a demonstration kitchen, and garden beds. The native plant nursery is a unique feature in this food hub that serves as a space to teach job skills in greenhouse management and plant production. The demonstration kitchen is utilized as a business incubator and a learning space for students and community members on food safety and nutrition. Community members can participate in the food hub by cultivating a garden bed. For more information, please contact:

Lamond-Riggs Urban Food Hub, Ward 5
5171 South Dakota Avenue NE
Washington, D.C. 20017


P.R. Harris Urban Food Hub

PR Harris Food Hub Garden Picture

The P.R. Harris Food Hub is a 5,000 sq ft hydroponic and aquaponic research facility located in D.C.’s Ward 8 community. In addition to developing a proof of concept for the business viability of a small-scale, controlled environment agricultural production site, its mission is to capture the production, employment, and educational potential that a vertical farming operation could generate in historically disenfranchised communities across D.C.

P.R. Harris Urban Food Hub, Ward 8
4600 Livingston Road SE
Washington, D.C. 20032


Virtual Community Workshops

Do you share a strong passion for agriculture and gardening education within an urban setting? If yes, this sounds like the perfect opportunity for you and your fellow classmate! The Center of Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education is now offering FREE virtual learning workshops at the click of your fingers.  We proudly invite you and your colleagues to check out our latest educational video series to learn more about today’s best practices and industry techniques within the gardening and urban agriculture spectrum.

Click here or see below to view our most recent workshops:

  1. Workshop #1 –  Soil and Sustainability 
  2. Workshop #2 – Growing Food Crops in the Shade
  3. Workshop #3 – How to Grow a Sustainable Diet
  4. Workshop #4 – Building soil, building the future
  5. Workshop #5 – How to Build Healthy Soil 
  6. Workshop #6 – Hungry Plants Cost Money
  7. Workshop #7 – Buying Compost the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly News You Need to Know 
  8. Workshop #8 – Plants that protect themselves from pest
  9. Workshop #9 – Urban Agriculture and Climate Control “New Normal”
  10. Workshop #10 – Perennial Crops: Gardening without Replanting
  11. Workshop #11 – Vertical Farming

Soilless Virtual Workshops

Gain insight on the basic principles, current trends, and options for system design, material selection, plus the best resources for sea and plant life, and the implementation of the first initial steps. To access these workshops see below or visit here.

Community Education and Programs

DC Master Gardener Program seeks to enhance the ecological health and aesthetics of the urban environment by training District of Columbia residents to become Master Gardeners. Expert horticulturists and plant scientists teach the eight-week educational program, which includes a 50-hour service-learning requirement working under a professional gardener. The program also has beautification projects in all eight Wards of DC including schools, places of worship, nursing homes, and parks. The Master Gardeners give 9,000 hours back to the city annually. In return, participants dedicate volunteer time to teach horticultural information, answer questions, speak at public events and participate in community gardening programs. Upon completion of the program, graduates earn a Master Gardener Certificate. The program provides interested individuals with extensive training in topics such as plant pathology, entomology, urban soils, and plant propagation.

Urban Agriculture Soil-Less Certificate: Introduction to Urban Agriculture provides participants a glimpse into the past and looks at current trends in soil-less growing in today’s agricultural world. Participants will dive into the basic needs and choices of system design, material selection, the best options for fish and plants, and the implementation of the first steps. For more information, please contact The launch date for this certificate program is TBA.

Urban Agriculture Technician Certificate is a set of two 15-hour certificate courses designed to provide participants with the knowledge and techniques necessary to maintain, repair and install critical fixtures of urban agricultural space and to master basic horticultural techniques and practices. The objective is to train individuals interested in agricultural employment to maintain, repair, and install critical fixtures of urban agricultural space and to master basic horticultural techniques and practices. Participants will learn to repair and install irrigation lines, build and install garden boxes, as well as perform basic maintenance on power tools and equipment. Participants will learn propagation and planting techniques for a variety of vegetable crops, pest identification and management, and harvesting skills. Also, techniques and strategies to reduce contamination of produce during handling and processing will be covered. Participants will learn how to use common agricultural tools correctly and efficiently. Upon completion of all intensives in the Urban Agriculture Technician Certificate, participants will have the basic skills needed to be successful agricultural workers or entrepreneurs. For more information, please contact

Introduction to Agroecology and Sustainable Food Production is a 15-hour course repeated three times in the summer, consisting of interactive lectures, videos, and discussions. This course will provide a good overview of sustainable food production principles and is intended to provide sufficient information to get started or improve your sustainable food production. It is designed to encourage thinking in terms of climate resilience, rather than focusing on climate change, with discussions related to research and activities at UDC and elsewhere. The course is offered by Dr. Mamatha Hanumappa, CAUSES project specialist in specialty and ethnic crops, with well-known invited speakers. This is a non-credit, certificate course and is free and open to all. There is no prerequisite as it is intended to be a beginner-intermediate level course. Certificates will be issued after the successful completion of the course. Be sure to check back every year as the course is fluid and will cover different topics of interest each year.

Gardening and Nutrition Program provides support and guidance for DC school gardens. The center engaged 4-H nutrition volunteers and UDC students as volunteer resources. Volunteers engage to implement programming with the UDC students as well as to conduct nutrition workshops and activities. A space at the UDC Green Roof is cultivated to plant and grow seedlings to support the garden programs at schools and centers. Students are instructed on how to plant, maintain and harvest. For more information, please contact

UDC 4-H Soccer Program is dedicated to the promotion and organization of youth soccer at both the recreational and competitive levels. The program is devoted to the development of its players and coaches in order to allow them to reach their fullest potential and to instill sportsmanship and friendship while developing a healthy living, community, and leadership spirit among all of its members. Youth in the program are physically active daily as they practice and master the skills involved in becoming effective athletes. They receive guidance and encouragement from their coaches, parents, and school professionals. College athletes also provide guidance by talking to the youth about the importance of avoiding drugs and alcohol, and eating healthy food, to maintain optimal health to become great players. UDC 4-H Soccer program also includes healthy eating workshops presented by the Center for Nutrition Diet and Health. For more information, please contact

Check out UDC’s 4-H Soccer Program in action here.

UDC Community Compost Training enables the community to learn about how to turn their organic waste (food and yard waste) into valuable soil amendment known as compost. The training workshops teach participants how to easily and effectively make organic waste to compost that they could use to grow food.

Making compost keeps food and yard waste out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. A CURII’s compost experts provide the community with thermophilic composting training during summer. The UDC community compost training is a seven-week long training, which students learn both theory and practice of composting by actively being engaged to make compost using one of the UDC food hub sites. Students meet once a week for 3 hours and bring their food and yard waste to the class to see how they can be turned into compost.


Breaking Seed Dormancy (Fact sheet 17)
Nutrients in Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa): Minerals Fact Sheet (Factsheet 16)
UDC Earth Day Event 2021
D.C. urban gardens flourish in the pandemic as people dig in to “fill the isolated life.
Easy and Healthy Recipes with Lambsquarters (Factsheet 011)
Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) is a Nutrient-Packed Edible Weed”. (Factsheet 005)
Easy and Healthy Recipes with Malabar Spinach (Factsheet 010)
Malabar spinach (Basella alba) is a Nutritious and Ornamental Plant (Factsheet 004)
Framing Materials for Raised Beds or Garden Boxes (Factsheet 012)
Harvesting and Cooking Sweet Potato Greens (Factsheet 013)
Urban Agriculture and Climate Change (Factsheet)
Urban Agriculture Research Partner – Green Waste Mulch Project
Feeding Urban Summer Soils for Maximum Crop Production and Soil Health (Factsheet)
How and When To Harvest Fruits for Peak Flavor (Factsheet)
How and When to Harvest Vegetables for Maximum Flavor (Factsheet)
Parasitic Wasps for Aphid Control in a Greenhouse (Factsheet)
Conventional Versus No-Till (Factsheet)
Rodent Control (Factsheet)
Personal Protective Equipment for Pesticide Applicators (Factsheet)
Balancing Aquaponic Systems (Factsheet)
Terrestrial Pest Management (Factsheet)
Pesticide Surplus and Safe Disposal (Factsheet)
Growing Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) for Home or Business Production in the Mid-Atlantic

Contact Us

4200 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

For More Information: