Who We Are

We Are the Civic Garden Center

Our mission is building community through gardening, education and environmental stewardship. Founded in 1942 out of the Victory Garden movement, we are THE place to go in Cincinnati to learn about gardening, sustainability, and horticulture. We are located at 2715 Reading Road on the former estate of Cornelius J. Hauck, Hauck Botanic Gardens. Here we host classes, a horticultural library, several gardens for visitors to enjoy free of charge, the Green Learning Station and an outdoor compost classroom; the building and grounds are available for event and meeting rental.

Within the Greater Cincinnati region, we support more than 70 community and school gardens, are actively restoring 2 forests located directly adjacent to schools, and host regular educational experiences in local forests. The CGC offers these programs at no cost to participants, thanks to the generosity of our donors, private and government grants and corporate sponsorships.

Still Together. In a New Way.

The Civic Garden Center’s mission is building community through gardening, education, and environmental stewardship. While our mission remains the same, we will never operate the same as we did before the pandemic. As we steer through uncertainty, we are more committed than ever to being here as a cornerstone for the community we serve.

Let’s Live Differently Now!

While we are by no means out of this pandemic, many of us are ready to live differently, now. Living through these unusual and difficult times invites serious reflection on important and existential questions. When we emerge on the other side of the COVID-19 outbreak, how will these difficult times have changed us? And could those changes be for the better? Will we be better prepared to respond to a climate emergency and other urgent sustainability challenges as a result of this experience?

Environmental Education and Action for Everyone (EEAE)

If this pandemic taught us anything, it’s that our life (as it used to be) is not sustainable for our planet. We are witnessing the power of nature and possibly a foretaste of the effects of climate change unless we treat our global home with love, justice and mutual respect. Even before the pandemic, we were exploring how to combine the expertise of the CGC across our core programs into a more seamless and targeted approach to the classes, field trips, training and habitat restoration opportunities that we offer.

Through our Environmental Education and Action for Everyone, we will connect the dots across all that we do behind one common mission, encouraging and challenging people to “walk the walk” and truly embrace the principles of inclusion and sustainability.

1. Get Growing

As we face deep economic insecurity, coupled with concerns around disruptions to our global food supply chain, gardening has taken on a new urgency. Growing food is one small thing we can do to regain control and help ourselves — a way to improve our mental and physical health during an optimum time for starting a vegetable garden.

Our goal is to support beginner gardeners and expert gardeners alike with educational opportunities, gardening resources and materials, volunteer support, and an introduction to our network of gardeners sharing best practices and resources.

2. Live Sustainably Now!

Sustainable living is the practice of reducing your demand for natural resources by making sure that you replace what you use to the best of your ability. Creating a sustainable lifestyle takes a lifelong commitment – to learning, experimenting, exploring, and committing to increasingly sustainable practices. CGC is here to help you discover how to change how you do things so that you start becoming more of an active part of the cycle of life.

You can complete Master Gardener training and attend GLS classes on sustainable habits at home and get your hands dirty helping out in a school garden or by planting a tree.

3. Get Outside

One silver lining that we hope will come out of this whole crisis is that people might become more connected with nature. And that’s a good thing because hundreds of studies all point in the same direction: more time spent in a natural setting improves just about everything.

Even if you know about the health benefits and the cognitive benefits and you want that for your kids or for yourself, you may not know where to start. We can help you get the most out of your experiences in nature. Working with kids, teachers and parents and caregivers we can provide ongoing nature and outdoor programming to schools, childcare centers, parks, and other institutions to create a lasting base of environmental literacy, stewardship, and problem-solving skills.

We have educational resources such as lesson plans, curriculum and webinars and practical tools and tips for connecting kids and nature. We provide outdoor learning opportunities such as tree planting events through our Treeforestation project and community and school garden workdays – great ways to help parents and teachers incorporate regular outdoor time into their children’s days.

4. Virtual Learning 

Virtual learning is here to stay. We’ve all had to experiment with digital solutions, be it virtual meetings for work, digital education for students and virtual events instead of in person conferences. These proved not only to be effective but also an environmentally-friendly way to operate in a connected world! We’ve been able to pivot quickly to producing short educational videos. We’re working now to adapt many of our educational resources into a robust series of videos for students, teachers and adults – covering everything from how to build a raised bed, to how to identify the plants you see on a walk in the woods, to how to keep rainwater where it falls. And much more!

5. Get Involved 

Volunteering or performing acts of kindness contributes significantly to happiness. Since its inception in 1942, the CGC has been shaped by its volunteers. As the CGC expanded, evolving to focus more on education, volunteers began sharing their knowledge in the form of classes, garden tours, and youth programs. As you might have guessed, volunteering in the time of the pandemic is more complicated than in normal circumstances. As we begin to figure out how we can get things up and running again in the coming weeks, keep your eyes peeled for socially distanced volunteer opportunities.

A Little More About Us

Our largest fundraising event, The Plant Sale, is held annually the first weekend in May. Thanks to the support of hundreds of dedicated volunteers the event has now survived more than 50 years and offers a diverse range of plants, vegetables, trees, gardening supplies, and anything else you might need to get your own garden started. Many opportunities to volunteer are offered both on and off site including opportunities to assist in maintaining Hauck Botanical Gardens, working in local community gardens, and restoring some of Cincinnati’s public forests. Donors and volunteers of the CGC have borrowing privileges from the Hoffman Library, our on-site horticultural library. Volunteers have the opportunity to attend many of our classes at no cost or a reduced cost.

During your visit, stop in the lobby where we have:

  • Self-guided tour map
  • List of classes and current events
  • Information about current gardening trends
  • A shop for gardening gifts and tools
  • Information on becoming a volunteer and donor
  • Brochures from additional gardening resources and local farming efforts.

We are proud of our accomplishments! Take a look at our annual report to see all that we do in a year.

Privacy Policy

The Civic Garden Center does not share or sell lists of donors or class/event registrants addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses to other organizations or companies.

Refund Policy

If you cannot attend a class or an event for which you have registered, please consider turning that payment into a donation (we will be happy to send you a letter stating your donation date and amount for a charitable contribution). If you would like a refund, please let us know when you tell us about your cancellation.