George Washington Carver Community Garden project makes gains

MUBG’s Annie Fisher Community Garden

Early crops in one of MUBG’s Annie Fisher Community Garden raised beds.

With the opening of the Annie Fisher Community Garden last summer on the site of MU’s Tara Apartments, Mizzou Botanic Garden’s George Washington Carver Community Garden Project is another step closer to fulfilling its mission.


As part of the original plan envisioned by former MU graduate student Leslie Touzou, two community garden sites were proposed and the first, the Henry Kirklin Garden, began operation in 2019 at the site of the former University Village. It has expanded and thrived under the leadership of rural sociology doctoral student Daniel Yuhasz.


“We initiated plans to open the Annie Fisher Garden a couple of years ago and worked to gauge interest, but the pandemic shut us down,” Yuhasz said. "Last spring, I contacted Residential Life and it was approved.”


Annie Fisher and Henry Kirklin, the MU community garden namesakes, both were black enterprising foodway entrepreneurs in the Columbia area in the mid 1900s.


“The Annie Fisher Garden was started in one of several originally proposed sites at Tara. We started small but there are several nice spaces to possibly expand into,” Yuhasz said.


Currently, the Fisher Garden consists of galvanized steel stock tanks, which were fully utilized by seven household units — a good size for a first year, Yuhasz said.


Despite the fact the garden did not get a green light until July, gardeners successfully planted and harvested a variety of vegetables and herbs. Some cool weather crops were still thriving there in early November. 


Yuhasz intends to get feedback from those who took advantage of the Fisher Garden space and share it with Residential Life, hoping that they will agree to have the garden expand.


Starting with 26 raised beds, the Kirklin Garden has added open space and mounded beds to accommodate increased interest, all generated by word-of-mouth.

MUBG’s Henry Kirklin Garden Covered Crops

One of the Henry Kirklin Garden’s raised bed gardeners installed a cover over their fall season greens to extend harvest into the cold. Community gardeners have freedom to plant and work their garden spots as they see fit.

Gardeners using both sites have varying skill levels but all are expanding their knowledge and taking their plots and efforts seriously. Last fall, gardeners at Kirklin planted cover crops in their beds, and a couple added domed covers to expand their harvest into the colder months.


As the community garden coordinator, Yuhasz is responsible for making the sites function.


“But it’s a group effort,” he said. “Gardeners are free to do whatever they want in their units. It’s about trying to meet their needs.”


Yuhasz has planted a communal herb garden at the Kirklin site as well as elderberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries with the intent that they will serve as shared harvests.


“There is incredible diversity among the gardeners. Many are grad students,” Yuhasz said, and added that his interest in foods of the world has been rewarded with gardeners sharing produce like bitter melon, a crop not typically found in local gardens.


Though not part of the original plan, in spring 2021, MUBG installed four stock tanks at MU’s Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center for an event cosponsored with the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and the Mizzou Chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences.


“That site is a great match for us because the whole George Washington Carver project was built around inclusion and equitable access to food and gardening,” Yuhasz said.


Nearly at the end of his doctoral program, Yuhasz said he hopes to help identify another graduate student to take his place and make a mark in the gardens. He himself has changed his focus since he first arrived at MU.


“I came here as an activist scholar with several years of food justice experience but now am more interested in food sovereignty, a specialized focus within food activism."


Food sovereignty means that those who produce and consume food also determine policies guiding its production and distribution.


For more information about the availability of garden space, intended for MU students, faculty and staff, contact Yuhasz at

Henry Kirklin Community Garden

1. A view of some of MUBG’s Henry Kirklin Community Garden’s raised beds in the summer of 2022.
2. Gardeners tend their raised beds in MUBG’s Henry Kirlin Community Garden in 2022. 3. Mounded garden beds have been added to MUBG’s Henry Kirklin Community Garden site to extend the available growing area.