UNSW Urban Growers (UUG)

About Us

The UNSW Urban Growers is a staff and student group focused on creating and maintaining new green food growing spaces across the UNSW campuses for hands-on practical learning, experiential teaching and research across disciplines, and restorative community action. We officially launched the gardens in late 2019. We welcome participation from across the university. So far, we have three gardens on the Kensington campus, including the main accessible garden at Barker St Carpark.

Our Locations

Our first campus-wide Teaching and Research Garden, fondly called “The Cage," is located on the northeast corner of the Barker St Car Park. It was established in 2019 with funding from the Scientia Education Academy and the Grand Challenge on Rapid Urbanisation. It features seven raised beds that are available to all UNSW staff and students for research and teaching. 

We planted our first garden in 2017, in the internal courtyards on Level 2 of the Law building just above the Law Library. The courtyards feature garden beds which are used for teaching urban agriculture in elective courses such as People, Land and Community and Food Law.

This new food garden was established on the Level 3 Balcony in Samuels building by the School of Public Health and Community Medicine in 2019. We supported the creation of this new space by planting two large vegetable pods where we are growing cherry tomatoes, green beans, lettuces and herbs. This new space makes for a more natural setting for enjoying lunch, having meetings or simply switching off for a brief moment or two. 

Benefits of Urban Growing

UNSW Urban Growers has identified many benefits of growing food on campus: Teaching, Research, Wellbeing and Greening. 

Food growing is incorporated into a number of courses at UNSW, with the opportunity for it to be adopted in many more across disciplines or subjects. For instance, students can plant food as part of their learning about urban agriculture, intellectual property, food security, art and design, or environmental humanities. Students can also grow food for practical classes in biology and ecology, as well as learning about concepts related to public health nutrition, food security, environmental management, obesity, and chronic disease prevention and management. Contact Dr. Sophia Lin (sophia.lin@unsw.edu.au) if you would like to bring your teaching or learning to the gardens.

There is much food-growing related research that can be done at UNSW but some requires growing space. For instance, staff in WaterGUM research the ways in which plants, including edibles, can be used to clean stormwater and wastewater in cities. Staff in Built Environment explore the planning, design and ecosystem services aspects of food growing, to inform our understanding of and capacity to positively intervene in our rapidly growing and densifying cities. Contact Dr. Sophia Lin (sophia.lin@unsw.edu.au) if you would like to bring your research to the gardens.

When we are grounded in the more-than-human world, our physical and psychological health improves, the immune system is boosted, and there are even benefits for our long-term health. When we get outdoors and put our hands in the soil around a common goal, we also create opportunities for social connection, which brings further benefits to overall individual and community wellbeing. Contact Dr. Sophia Lin (sophia.lin@unsw.edu.au) if you would like to volunteer in the gardens.

One of the great challenges of rapid urbanisation in the 21st century is keeping our cities — where the vast majority of us dwell —liveable. We can survive and thrive by making our shared urban environment regenerative, in part by planting food. In dense urban environments like UNSW, with limited space, we must be innovative, growing food in gaps between buildings, as well as inside and on buildings. Growing food in these ways can counteract urban heat islands, reduce energy costs, clean the air, and increase ecological, cultural, and social wellbeing. Please contact A/Prof. Tema Milstein (tema.milstein@unsw.edu.au) if you would like to collaborate around sustainability initiatives and outreach in the gardens.

Contact Us

If you would like to access the food gardens for teaching or research purposes or want to volunteer in caring for the gardens, contact UNSW Urban Growers Team Co-Lead Dr. Sophia Lin (sophia.lin@unsw.edu.au). If you want to collaborate or match up food-growing or community gardens sustainability powers in other ways, whether you’re from on or off-campus, please contact Team Co-Lead Associate Professor Tema Milstein (tema.milstein@unsw.edu.au).

Connect and follow us on Facebook and Instagram .

Dr. Sophia Lin (School of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine & Health) 

Curator of Food and Knowledge of UUG —Facilitates teaching, research, volunteers


Assoc. Prof. Tema Milstein (Environment & Society Group, School of Humanities & Languages, Faculty of Arts, Design, & Architecture)

Symbiotic Seer of UUG — Facilitates sustainability & community outreach


Student Representative