The Gardens

A key element of Convivium Urban Farmstead is our gardens. The gardens are both educational and functional — they yield a significant amount of produce that we use in our fresh, made-from-scratch menu in the restaurant.

Because we are located in such a sense urban area, we knew from the outset that we wanted to model methods to do small scale gardening — container gardening, raised beds, growing vertically using trellises, straw bales, potato towers and edible landscaping. We wanted to show people ways that they could garden at their own homes, even if that was an apartment or if you had a small yard.

So we converted every available inch of space on our own property to demonstrate these types of gardening. But we very quickly realized that the space we had available wasn’t going to be enough to provide a summer’s worth of vegetables to our restaurant kitchen. So we went looking for other solutions.

“We wanted to show people ways that they could garden at their own homes, even if that was an apartment or if you had a small yard.”

Watch the transformation of our first borrowed garden space on 28th and Jackson.

That solution came in the form of the backyard of a nearby hair salon — Leslie’s Hair Emporium on the corner of 28th and Jackson Street — just a few doors down from Convivium. The salon is in an old house and it has large backyard that the owner’s had to mow all summer. It was a perfect place for a rather large garden. So we literally knocked on their door and simply asked what they thought about the idea.

They said ‘sure’ and we spent several weeks building 22 various sized box gardens in the backyard. This was the first of what currently stands at about 9,000 sq ft of growing space throughout the neighborhood.

These are just some of our gardens throughout the North End of Dubuque.

“We also plant and tend a series of free community garden boxes throughout the neighborhood.”

The best part is that one knock on the door was the only effort we had to make. Once other neighbors saw what we were up to, they came to us offering their yards for our efforts.

In addition to our production gardens, we also plant and tend a series of free community garden boxes throughout the neighborhood. These are yellow, raise-bed gardens that we call our Common Beds. We currently have seven throughout the neighborhood.

Neighbors and passersby are encouraged to harvest whatever vegetables they would like. Each bed includes signage explaining the concept and giving instructions on how and when to harvest vegetables from the bed.

Convivium Urban Farmstead is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to create community around all aspects of food. Your patronage helps support our non-profit activities.