NC State’s Edible Gardens

Jasmine Gibson left and Megan Carr right celebrate the opening of the BAE PEER Garden

The following article was written by Campus As A Classroom student interns Haley Pierce and Ren Rooney.

Edible garden spaces offer a wide range of benefits, including community engagement, biodiversity conservation and providing habitat for many different beneficial insects. 

Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, flies, wasps, beetles, moths and more help carry pollen from flower to flower and allow for fertilization and plants to fruit. These landscapes can also mitigate carbon emissions, reduce chemical usage and bolster population stability through eco-friendly practices.

Campus edible gardens serve as incredible educational tools to foster deeper understanding of sustainable agricultural and horticultural practices among students. Produce from edible gardens can promote food security and healthier lifestyles. They also offer places to relax, connect to nature, build community and improve mental health.

Explore NC State’s Edible Gardens:

Agroecology Education Farm

The NC State Agroecology Education Farm is located off of Lake Wheeler Road near the Historic Yates Mill County Park. The farm was started in 2005 as a space for the NC State community to learn about and become involved in sustainable agriculture. Since 2013, it has sourced produce for NC State Dining, bringing agroecology education into the dining halls as part of a closed-loop system between the farm, the dining halls and the NC State Compost Facility and Research Cooperative

There are many opportunities to become involved at the Agroecology Education Farm. Faculty can bring classes to the farm for field trips, student groups can take tours and the farm also offers research plots and internships to support continued learning. The community is also invited to join volunteer workdays and special events, including yoga.

The Agroecology Education Farm cycles through planting, harvesting and preparing crops for each new season, including:

  • Early sprint transplants: broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets, cauliflower, herbs, lettuce, flowers
  • Spring harvesting: radishes, carrots, beets, kale, swiss chard, peas, lettuce, spinach
  • Spring planting: beans, onions, potatoes
  • Summer harvesting: squash, peppers, tomatoes, melons, 
  • Overwintering: carrots, spinach, garlic, beets, radishes, turnips, kale, swiss chard
A student plants lettuce using sustainable agriculture practices.
Farm manager Sara Snyder guides students on a tour of the Agroecology Education Farm.

Rocky Branch Learning Garden

The Learning Garden at Rocky Branch Trail is located behind Carmichael Gym’s outdoor basketball courts, off of the Campus Health Center parking lot. It was designed and planted by horticulture students in 2016 with support from the City of Raleigh’s Advocates for Health in Action. 

Additions to the garden’s edible features were later added by the Sustainability Stewards in 2022 with support from the NC State Sustainability Fund and Landscape and Maintenance Operations horticulture team. This team provides sustainable management of campus pollinator gardens, which includes avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers. Instead, they top plant beds with compost and manually remove weeds. 

The Learning Garden includes the following plants:

  • Edible plants: Fig, Asian Persimmon, Lavender, Strawberry, Pawpaw, Rosemary, Gardenia, Viburnum, Garlic Chives
  • Pollinator plants: Butterfly Weed, Tickseed, Purple Coneflower, Beebalm, Black-eyed Susan, American Aster, Mexican Sage, Mexican Marigold
A carpenter bee visits Mexican sage.
A common eastern bumble bee enjoying rosemary blossoms.
A honey bee gathers nectar from garlic chives.

SOL (Students for Organic Living) Garden

The SOL Garden is a student-run organization located near Parents Park behind Lee Residence Hall. Its mission is to “create an educational and demonstrative garden where students, faculty and visitors can learn about small-scale agriculture and sustainable gardening, as well as to cultivate a place of serenity and community for those looking to escape the hustle of life on a college campus.”

The SOL garden utilizes sustainable gardening practices and includes a backyard composting bin and a bee hotel, created in collaboration with the NC State Beekeepers Club

There are four raised beds where members produce fruits, vegetables and wildflowers. The group also partners with Feed the Pack Food Pantry for excess produce donations. 

The SOL Garden includes the following plants: 

  • Spring/summer beds: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, okra, green beans, basil, marigolds, cilantro, strawberries, mint and pumpkins
  • Fall beds: peas, arugula, carrots, lettuce, kale, broccoli, beets, swiss chard and celery
  • Perennial plantings around beds: Black Eyed Susans, carpet bugle, thyme, lavender, rosemary, oregano, hellebores, fothergilla, cone flowers, yarrow, beautyberry, pink muhly grass and stonecrop

The SOL Garden engages students and the local community through volunteer workdays, events and education displays.

Student volunteers prepare garden beds at the SOL Garden.
A thriving SOL Garden showcases the efforts of volunteers and sustainable farming techniques.
A student constructs a bee hotel at the SOL Garden, creating additional habitat for pollinators.

Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) P.E.E.R.Garden

The BAE P.E.E.R. Garden, or People Ecologically Engineering a Regenerative Garden, is a community demonstration garden that highlights regenerative agricultural practices in agricultural engineering. 

This initiative aims to highlight indigenous agricultural practices, horticultural components of agricultural engineering and the benefits of urban food production. The small-scale garden projects allow students to implement their BAE curriculum while also preparing them to construct personal gardens one day. The BAE P.E.E.R. Garden also hopes to improve student wellness by reconnecting engineers with a natural space near their academic buildings.

The BAE P.E.E.R. Garden includes the following plants:

  • Pollinator plants: White-hearted Asters, Goldenrod, Milkweed, Black Eyed Susan, Coneflowers, Joe-Pye Weed
  • Oriental grasses: shrubs, feather-reed grasses, bluestem
  • Edible plants: strawberries, watermelon, squash, tomatoes, marigolds, bell peppers, banana peppers
Seedlings thrive alongside storage sheds containing supplies for volunteer workers.
Students work together to position raised planter beds.
Creative students paint stepping stones for garden walkways, adding a personal touch to the BAE P.E.E.R. Garden.

Campus Foodscaping

Foodscaping provides a unique and beautiful look to decorative areas, with the bonus of growing produce items to eat. Foodscaping is starting to take root on campus and can currently be found in planters outside the Hill Library’s Atrium.

Chard growing in planters on the Brickyard demonstrates the beauty and productivity of campus gardens.

Edible gardens support the environment, food production and overall wellness of both people and the planet. By fostering this relationship at NC State, campus edible gardens can cultivate a healthier, more resilient future for all.

Learn more about growing edible gardens with NC State Extension and explore NC State’s campus gardens at