Skip to Main Content

Explore one of UNF’s 16 gardens: Potager Permaculture Guild

Large banana plant located in the Potager Permaculture GuildAcross the University of North Florida's beautiful campus of nearly 1,600 acres, there are over 16 unique gardens to enjoy and experience. Among these unique spaces is the Potager Permaculture Guild, a 1,600 square foot space located outside of the Osprey Café in the Osprey Commons, Building 16.

The typical potager garden (also referred to as the kitchen garden) is a vegetable plot which follows the principles of garden design to create a space that is both ornamental and productive. Potager gardens are ideal for most modern urban settings and feature designs that use a smaller footprint than vegetable gardens, yield larger harvests and grow a wider variety of plants with small yields.

UNF’s potager garden, nicknamed the “snack trail” by volunteers, was developed as a key educational module towards creating a healthier lifestyle and forming a connection to where food comes from. This small garden is focused on the fun of learning and experiencing seeds becoming food, enjoying seasonal changes and yielding crops that can be snacked on such as “ice cream” bananas, Okinawa spinach, roselle hibiscus (rose hips), garlic chives, turmeric, lemongrass, holy basil, Jewels of Opar, dill, sweet and hot peppers, sweet potatoes, various mints, and papaya.

This specific potager garden is also considered a “permaculture guild,” a harmoniously interwoven group of plants and animals, often centered around one major species, that benefits humans while creating natural habitats. Permaculture guilds are an attempt to bridge the gap between conventional vegetable gardens and wildlife gardening by creating plant communities that act and feel like natural landscapes. Guilds help restore nature’s role as the gardener's partner, transforming a solitary plant into a plant community that immensely benefits all and lightens the human workload.

Companion planting is also a large part of permaculture. For example, in the UNF Potager Permaculture Guild, lemongrass has been next to bananas as a natural pest and weed deterrent, Hibiscus roselle serves as an edible pollinator, and sweet potato and spinach both double as produce and as a living groundcover that prevent weeds, help retain moisture in the soil. This spring, beans will use the stalks of the bananas for support as they grow and will also serve as an excellent nitrogen fixer. 

This garden is currently being maintained in partnership with the UNF Botanical Garden Volunteer Team.