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Villanova Research and Education Garden

Environmental Learning Community Class 2017

The Villanova Consortium for Agricultural Research and Education (VCARE), as part of the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), is proud to present the addition of a new, on-campus research garden. The goal of the research garden is to serve as an educational, cross-curriculum resource, while modeling sustainable urban agriculture and enriching the greater Villanova community. The garden will provide opportunities for research, integration into a variety of class curricula, and social outreach through community partnerships.

VURF Funding Opportunity

Our hope is that VCARE specific VURF's will instill a love of knowledge, research, and sustainability in our students.


VCARE has partnered with the Villanova Center for Research and Fellowships (CRF) to provide at least one fully funded Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowships (VURF) for their 2021 Summer Research Program. Students are encouraged to develop a research proposal detailing the scope of their proposed project, a description of the materials intended to be used in the garden, a detailed budget for the project, and a proposed schedule of the weekly maintenance to the garden plots throughout the course of the project. The garden is located behind the tennis courts near Driscoll Hall, and includes multiple 8’x4’x2’ raised beds, water access, and basic tools. Access to electricity is not currently available at the garden. VCARE recommends students visit the garden to determine the feasibility of the anticipated project before developing their proposals.

All students wishing to submit research garden proposals should apply through the regular VURF application portal, and should indicate a desire to apply for the named fellowship in their application. Though only one research garden project is guaranteed through the VURF named fellowship, the possibility of funding additional research garden projects through a regular VURF is possible.

Go to the VURF website for more information on how to apply.

For questions regarding the garden, please contact Liesel Schwarz, Villanova University's Sustainability Manager by email at, or via phone at (610) 519-7988

Summer 2020


Eliana Uriona: Chemistry Major, Global Health Studies and Spanish Minors

Eliana’s research was based on the idea that high levels of heavy metals in soil reduces crop productivity. Sunflowers naturally undergo phytoremediation, a process that removes heavy metal concentrations from soils. Her project tested sunflowers’ ability to remove heavy metals from edible plants when planted together.

Hannah Darensbourg: Environmental Science and Geography Double Major, Peace and Justice Minor

Hannah’s research focused on the ability of native plants to grow in non-soil growing mediums, and their ability to survive the harsh conditions of a rooftop. She used a foam like substance called a WatergripTM Brownie as her growing medium, and introduced different watering conditions. She then monitored plant growth in each condition.

Julia Martiner: Chemistry Major, Peace and Justice Minor

Julia’s project focused on the influence of household kitchen compost and chicken manure on nutrient and heavy metal mobility in home gardens. She measured the growth and yields of kale and tomato plants and tested the soil for nitrogen, dissolved organic carbon and a variety of metals. 


Summer 2019


Eliana Uriona: Chemistry Major, Global Health Studies and Spanish Minors

Eliana’s study focused on soil chemistry and the effect that various organic additives (such as biochar and chicken manure) have on it. The idea of the project was to measure the pH, and four cations – calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium – to determine the availability of negative charge in the soil, which determines the ability of the soil to retain key nutrients like magnesium, calcium and potassium.


Adam Langley, Assistant Professor Biology

Chara Armon, Lawrence C Gallen Fellow in the Humanities

Justinus Satrio, Associate Professor Cemical Engineering

Peleg Kremer, Assistant Professor Geography and the Environment

Steve Goldsmith, Assistant Professor Geography and the Environment

Vanessa Boschi, Professor Chemistry

For a complete list and research areas of interest.

  • Perennial herb bed
    • Pollinator biodiversity
    • Biodiversity of insect visitors
  • Agroecological permaculture
    • Impacts of natural fertilizers (compost tea, compost, etc)
  • Compare water retention and the amount of water needed depending on different types of mulch (leaf mulch, grass clippings, cardboard, plastic, etc)
  • Comparative natural pesticides to synthetic pesticides(such as squash or broccoli sensitive to pests)
  • Local indigenous tribes’ indigenous plants:
    • Are the seeds available?
    • Can they be grown?
    • Do we know how?
  • Heirloom seeds vs Hybridized seeds
  • Ecological and preference of pollinators to native flower structures
  • Urban heat island effect
    • Simulate garden as rural/suburban, somewhere else on campus replicate the heat island in urban, see how bloom times, yields, nutrition are impacted (additional space would be required – or partner with an urban garden somewhere else)
  • Cost effective ways of extending the seasons (plastic covers, hoop houses, etc)
  • Projected extreme weather events on nutritional value, growth, yields, overall success
    • Using CO2 chambers to increase CO2 levels and investigate the impacts of increased levels
    • See related article:
  • Runoff mitigation
    • Do raised beds help with decreasing runoff?
  • Maximize crops within a bed
    • Square foot garden and successional beds to maximize production
  • Companion planting (tomato and basil, three sisters)
    • Compare how companion plants success vs monocrop or non-polycultures
    • Explore other relationships
  • Exploring general benefits of gardens and raised beds (pests control, even negative relationships, what can/cannot be planted together, etc)
  • Theological/ Humanities ideas
    • Qualitative research through interviews about the benefits of having an on-campus garden
    • Interview to those involved with the garden (mental, wellbeing benefits)

Interested in working in the garden?

Sign up to volunteer to help with garden maintenance, including planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting.


Villanova University, as a community of learned and learning scholars, respecting the sacredness of all creation, accepts its responsibility to the integrity of Earth and its biodiversity, to the heritage of future generations, and to the security of nations. By utilizing the Augustinian values of Unitas, Veritas, and Caritas, meaning love thy neighbor, promote community unity, and live life in moderation through our curriculum, work environment, and operations, Villanova’s approach to sustainability exemplifies an emphasis on social justice and community service.

For questions regarding campus sustainability email

Spring Flower Sale

For scheduling or more information on tours, hosting activities or conducting research in the campus research garden,  contact Liesel Schwarz

All users must adhere to the garden's activities and behavior guidelines.