Which garden would you like outside of Smith Lab in 2018? VOTE BY 4/15

The Sustainable Growing Club (GrOSU) and the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) need your help! Through productive use of the university’s resources, both land and people, we aim to pioneer new physical, ecological and cultural models of food systems. Recognizing that change begins at home, we are working with campus partners to rethink use of productive land on the Ohio State campus.

During the 2017 growing season, we planted the “Pop Garden” outside of Smith Lab on 18th Avenue. The garden featured native heirloom grains that could be popped after harvest. The project was a huge success with vibrant corn, amaranth, sorghum, and millet that brightened the space.

We’ve got some big plans for the space for the 2018 growing season (and beyond) and we need your help. Below are garden design concepts for outside of Smith Lab from our project partners in the Landscape Architecture program at Ohio State’s Knowlton School.

Take a look and VOTE BELOW by April 15th for the concept that you’d like to see implemented outside of Smith Lab in 2018! We’ll release the name of the winning garden concept in late April and will begin planning for planting a version of the winning concept soon after.

Would you like to get involved in the project? Email infact@osu.edu to learn more.

Option 1: Medicinal Garden

Concept created by Brendan Ayer, Tyler Cloud, and Rachel Smith


During a visit to Smith Lab to view the Pop Garden in 2017, the students that drafted this garden concept noticed the constant interaction between pedestrians and the Pop Garden. Students walking by ran their hands along the plants at the curb and along the walkway into the building. Inspired, the students designed a medicinal herb garden as a therapeutic space that students can engage with in a physical way. In this concept, the garden would be divided into two distinct sides: a calming space for individual relaxation to the west, and an energizing collaborative space to the east. The students want pedestrians to engage with the space by touching the plants to release their fragrant aromas as well as sit in the space to reflect and meditate. For the edges of the site, the students chose specimens with fragrant and textured foliage that is hearty enough to withstand constant touching from those walking by.

Suggested Plants:

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Sage (Salvia officinalis), Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis), Dog Rose (Rosa canina), Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus), Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus), American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

Garden Layout:

Option 2: Pop Garden

Concept created by GrOSU and Forbes Lipschitz


The Pop Garden made its debut as in 2017 with a dazzling array of native heirloom grains that could be popped after harvest. The corn, amaranth, sorghum, and millet grown in the space served as food for people and pollinators with brilliant colors that made the space “pop,” also partially giving the vibrant garden its name. In the fall, cover crops were seeded in the plots to build soil fertility by biological means. Should this garden be chosen again for 2018, it’s footprint will be expanded.

Suggested Plants:

Ruby Queen Corn (Zea mays subsp. mays), Miniature Colored Popcorn (Zea mays subsp. mays), Red Garnet Amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor), Dakota Black Popcorn (Zea mays subsp. mays), Golden Giant Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus), Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus), Dwarf Mayo Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), Tom Thumb Popcorn (Zea mays subsp. mays), Lime Light Spray Millet (Setaria italica), Pygmy Torch Amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus)

Garden Layout:

Option 3: Bird Garden

Concept created by Sarah Coleman, Sean Fitzgerald, and Andy Polefrone


The students that drafted this concept seek a haven for birds that live and travel through Columbus. The design showcases a variety of plants that provide four crucial needs of migratory birds: nesting, shelter, food, and nectar. In addition to providing a rich habitat for birds, the garden would provide a fun, educational experience for passersby. The signage would reveal which plants attract feathered friends and how the plants benefit them. Ultimately, the students that developed this concept view the garden as an opportunity to foster a better understanding of the birds of Ohio and their habitats and to provide an exciting surprise for the Ohio State community as they engage with the space.

Suggested Plants:

Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium), Running Serviceberry (Amelanchier stolonifera), Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella), New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Common Juniper ‘Gnome’ (Juniperus communis), Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra)

Garden Layout:

Option 4: Pollinator Garden

Concept created by Andrew Souders, Colin Hall, and Jonathan Stechschulte


A pollinator garden is a garden that is planted with flowers that provide nectar or pollen for a wide range of bees, birds, bats, and insects. In their observations of the space, the students that designed this concept noticed that Smith Lab is heavily trafficked. Their design seeks to create a tranquil space for both pollinators as well as people. The design accommodates the heavy traffic near the garden by creating a cut-through on the eastern plot of the land to immerses a user in the space for a few moments of tranquility on their way into Smith Lab. The students designed the western plot of the garden with a relaxing space where a user can escape, sheltered from pedestrian traffic. The tiering of the plants in the garden was done to allow for visibility in the space while still enabling a user to feel secure and in a designated space while in the garden.

Suggested Plants:

Spotted Beebalm (Monarda punctata), Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans), Western Ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii), Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum), New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Showywand Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa), Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis), Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata)

Garden Layout:

Vote! Which garden would you like to see outside of Smith Lab?

Votes accepted until 4/15/18

Ranking Form