Loyola University Chicago - Project Eden

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Project Eden is an edible landscaping initiative at Loyola University Chicago, to increase the campuses current edibility

Initiative[edit | edit source]

As modern urbanites our knowledge of agriculture and food production may be limited to what we see in the grocery store. In spite of our higher educations and our lucrative careers, we often fail to realize how our fundamental survival is inherently dependent on the experience and quality of our agriculture. However food production has been removed from the majority of the population, leaving little opportunity to learn let alone develop any intimacy with our food. These problems of distance and ignorance are recurring themes in the faults of the modern food system. Food is grown in one location than shipped a great distance to the rest of society, locking in a spiritual, physical and mental distance from our food. This distance is inadvertently causing us to make blind choices about our food in daily life, resulting in negative downstream effects in fields such as nutrition, mental health, food security etc. In looking to provide opportunity and again immerse people to again interact with their food production, contemporary urban agriculture resources will have to be established.

  • Fresh Produce travels an average of 1,500 miles [1]
  • Fewer than 2% of people in the US farm [2]
  • Community gardeners and their children eat healthier, nutrient rich diets than non gardeners [3]

Vision[edit | edit source]

Imagine a campus where fruit trees line the sidewalks, grape vines scale vertical walls, and annual vegetables fill landscaping garden beds. The Garden of Eden? No, it’s Loyola University’s Lake Shore Campus in downtown Chicago, where students, faculty ,and community members come together to assume responsibility for stewardship and maintenance of this edible landscape. The university encourages this contemporary urban agriculture through curricula and community-wide events. Individuals commune with each other and their environment through food and work.

  • Havanas able to produce over 50% of it’s produce needs [4]
  • 40% of Toronto residents grow some of their own food [5]
  • Victory gardens supplied up to 40% of the produce in America during WWII [6]

Methods and Products[edit | edit source]


  • Current edible plant species on campus were surveyed
  • Recording longitudinal location with a Garmen GPSMAP® 60Cx device, then interfaced longitudinal coordinates with Google Maps
  • The edible map has been published online, where clickable points of interest for the plants have been placed forwarding the user to more information.

Link to map Soil

Soil were sent out for analysis from four locations across campus: Winthrop and Loyola ave, Halas Field, Cudahy Science, and Mundelein Center.

  • Tests were performed for: Soil Density, pH, cation exchange capacity
  • Nutrient levels of: P,K, Ca, Mg, NO3
  • Micronutrient capacity of: B, Mn, Zn, Cu, Fe, S
  • Metals of concern: Pb, Cd, Ni, Cr

No hazardous materials were found in soil test results, however soil conditions on the lakeshore campus were found to be strongly alkaline

Responsible Stewardship

  • Plants were attempted to be maintained and cared for using organic and ecologically friendly methods first, Organic methods used may not have fallen into criteria for qualification of USDA Organic.

Documents in the Cloud

  • Data, documents and observation have been published on the free-source software of Wikipedia in the Wikiversity

section, in effort to share and further urban agriculture from an individual level to an institutional level.

Events and scholastic workdays were created to promote and engage the student body in activities of the project. Three main events were created:

  1. 1.Welcome Week Victory Garden workshop.
  2. 2.Fall planting
  3. 3.Spring Planting

New Plant Installations

  • Based on campus survey of map and soil plants which were native, and suitable to soil and local lakeside climate conditions were selected.
  • Over 200 new native perennial edible plants were installed on campus including plants such as black cherry, concord grape and beach plum.

Featured areas of interest
[edit | edit source]

  • Winthrop farms ( Loyola and Winthrop Ave )

  • Guerrilla spaces

Unlike the other edible landscaping initiatives on occasion the planting of edible plants has occurred around campus. Some locations with edible plants planted by these dareing students include:

  • Blueberry bushes left of the moon sculpture next the the IC
  • Raspberry Bush next at Flanner Hall entrance.

Thoughts and Future[edit | edit source]

The goal of this project has been working to create the essential resources to enable urban agriculture to take place at a university level. Urban agriculture is a commitment to education; an education that is progressive, holistic, interdisciplinary and encourages participation at all levels. In doing so people can then organically experience the intimacy of food production as a component of their daily lives. However in a place like a university the time a student spends at the university for their career is around 4 years. Institutionalization of an urban agriculture program as component of the university experience will enable students (and community ) to reap the benefits of a true agri-culture.

Project History[edit | edit source]

  • Arbor Day
  • Winthrop

Involvement[edit | edit source]

School Year Team Lead (s) Mentor(s)
2009-2010 Elias Majid Adam Schubel
2010-2011 Elias Majid Adam Schubel
2011-2012 Rose Brickley Adam Schubel

Growers' Guild Loyola, the campus gardening club, have been much of the backbone in working to introduce edible plants to the Loyola University Chicago campus. The club has organized events, workshops and landscape tours to promote the campus edible landscape.

Center for Urban Environmental Research Policy (CUERP) has been the promotional administrative force encouraging the institutionalization of Project Eden. Instructor Adam Schubel of CUERP has built the project as a part of the course STEP:Food Systems, offered at Loyola University Chicago

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Pirog, Rich. 2002. Checking the food odometer: Comparing food miles for local versus conventional produce sales to Iowa institutions? Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubs/staff/files/food_travel072103.pdf [PDF]
  2. "Extension." National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). 22 Mar. 2010. Web. <http://www.csrees.usda.gov/qlinks/extension.html>
  3. Bremer, A., Jenkins, K. & Kanter, D. (2003). Community Gardens in Milwaukee: Procedures for their long-term stability & their import to the city.– Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin, Department of Urban Planning
  4. "Havana: Feeding the City on Urban Agriculture." Sustainable Cities. Web. <http://sustainablecities.dk/en/city-projects/cases/havana-feeding-the-city-on-urban-agriculture>.
  5. "40% of Toronto Households Grow Food." City Farmer's Urban Agriculture Notes. Web. <http://www.cityfarmer.org/40percent.html>.
  6. "Havana: Feeding the City on Urban Agriculture." Sustainable Cities. Web. <http://sustainablecities.dk/en/city-projects/cases/havana-feeding-the-city-on-urban-agriculture>. Pollan, Michael. "Farmer in Chef." The New York Times :the New York Edition: MM62. 9 Oct. 2008. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12policy-t.html?pagewanted=9&_r=1>. Figure 1 "Making the Edible Campus." McGill University. Web. 01 Dec. 2009. ……<http://www.mcgill.ca/mchg/project