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.

Let’s Stay Together

The Civic Garden Center’s mission is building a resilient 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. We are more committed than ever to being here as a cornerstone for the community we serve, encouraging social equity and connectedness and fostering a community that grows and recovers in ways that make us stronger than before.

It’s a Crisis, Not a Change

As vaccine rollouts and the lifting of restrictions have allowed us to move into a post-pandemic world, we face another looming emergency: the climate crisis. Part of effective communication is calling things by their name. Climate change is normal and has always happened throughout the history of earth. What we’re witnessing right now is not natural climate change though. The rapid change of climate worldwide, caused by human activity, is the biggest crisis we have ever faced. If we cannot reduce our greenhouse gas emission drastically within the next years, changes will be irreversible. And if we reach climate tipping points, we’ll have little ability to mitigate runaway climate change.

But what if we were to come to a tipping point for climate action?

It’s now also unequivocal that people want action. The largest ever global opinion survey on climate change, The People’s Climate Vote, found in late 2020 that 64% of people consider the climate crisis a “global emergency”. The scale and pace of social and environmental change demands that centers of environmental education like the Civic Garden Center provide citizens — young and old — with the information, skills, and tools they need to navigate a far more uncertain world than anyone predicted even a decade ago. Though research on social understanding of climate has long shown climate change makes people feel powerless, we now have tools giving us agency to act to meaningfully reduce emissions, improve our environment, manage our natural resources, and protect human health.

Everyone must understand and experience that they can be part of the solution. Education will play a critical role in making the vision of sustainability a reality – the kind of education for children and adults the Civic Garden Center continues to offer.

Nature Knows

Our goal is to stretch ourselves, pulling on our resilience as an organization as much as possible to bring more adults and students together to learn about issues in environmental and ecological sustainability with a strong emphasis on understanding how humans are linked to the environment and how working with nature and enhancing the role of ecosystems can help reduce the impacts of climate change and increase resilience. Such an approach can deliver multiple benefits, including lowering pressures on biodiversity, improving human health and well-being, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building a sustainable economy.

As history has shown, choices made during crises can shape the world for decades to come. What will remain critical is the need for collective action to build communities that deliver environmental equity and sustainability for all. We invite you to join us in some of the most important work any of us can do. The Civic Garden Center is here, more committed than ever, to helping our community grow and thrive together.

1. Get Growing

Growing your own produce is a simple solution to numerous health, environmental, and economic problems. Whether you are growing a single tomato plant or have a large backyard garden, it is beneficial to your health, as well as the environments.

And we’re here to help!

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 or attend GLS classes on sustainable habits at home or get your hands dirty helping out in a school garden or through 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 are excited to offer a powerful combination of online learning alongside numerous opportunities for in person hands-on learning.

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.