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Hanley Sustainability Institute

About Lincoln Hill Gardens

Known as Lincoln Hill Gardens, this 5-acre site, located among the residents it serves, was transformed into a sustainable educational site that increases neighborhood access to fresh, healthy foods and offers open green space for community gatherings and nature play. The original master site plan for Lincoln Hill Gardens (found below) included elements of urban agriculture, community gathering, outdoor education, and recreation. Planning is being done to alter the original plan, but it will still be a valuable community resource. Read the original brochure (pdf) >


In an almost unbelievable statistic, the Dayton Metropolitan area ranked worst in Ohio and 9th in the country in food hardship. Nearly every urban area in the Miami Valley is a food desert - the Dayton core is no exception. To assist in combating this problem, HSI partnered with local non-profit organizations East End Community Services and Mission of Mary Cooperative to initiate change within the urban regions of East Dayton. The initial goal of this partnership was to develop a sustainable, multipurpose urban agriculture and community green space within Dayton’s Twin Towers Neighborhood.  The partnership was joined by MKSK, a Columbus-based landscape architecture and urban design firm in the work of bringing the vision of Lincoln Hill Gardens to fruition.

Current Work

Urban Agriculture Education Area

Mission of Mary Cooperative began farming on the Lincoln Hill site in the spring of 2016, utilizing the newly installed hoop house and high tunnels. After a ramping up production over the first 6 months at the site, the full 2017 growing year at Lincoln Hill Garden was an even greater success, with early-spring, summer, fall, and prep for winter crops. In particular Mission of Mary focused on a significant tomato and pepper crop and fall carrots and greens. The change in season is marked by the "roll" of the high tunnels.

Community Garden Beds

In the spring of 2017, a group of Mission of Mary staff and volunteers, East End Community Services staff and volunteers, community members and UD faculty, staff and students worked over multiple days to install the first phase of the community garden beds at Lincoln Hill Gardens. These first 20 beds were used during the 2017 growing season by Twin Towers residents and Mission of Mary. The site has continued to produce in the years since.

Fruit and Nut Orchard

Thanks to a generous donation of from Vectren, work began on phase 1 of the the fruit and nut orchard in late Fall of 2017.  With the installation help of UD facilities management and the University of Dayton Sustainability Club, Lincoln Hill Gardens now has an orchard composed of sour cherry, sweet cherry, fig, plum and pawpaw trees—pawpaw being one of Ohio's native fruit trees, that tastes like a medley of banana, mango and citrus. The orchard's second phase added dwarf apple and pear trees to the mix. This orchard will provide educational workshop opportunities as well as fresh fruit to the City of Dayton. Thanks to Vectren and all the community partners who made this possible.

Nature Playscape

In addition to assisting with site preparation for the orchard, UD facilities management assisted with the preparation of phase one of the nature playscape, including site modification and donation of wood chips, tree stumps, and limbs. This work helped bring to life the design of student leader, Abby Lisjack. Abby worked on planning and design of the playscape with community partners and nature playscape experts, Eric Sauer and Doug Horvath of Five Rivers Metroparks, in the summer of 2017.  Doug led the Miami Valley's No Child Left Inside program. 


Urban Farm Podcast
Diana Cuy-Castellanos and Stephen Mackell shared the story of Lincoln Hill Garden, a 5-acre community green space that was built on the site of a demolished public school. This property is serving the community with gardens, an urban farm, and a natural playground.  They shared the background of how three organizations came together and listened to the community to build a project to fit the community as well as provide much needed assistance with healthy local produce. The podcast is no longer available online.
Table of Plenty
A project involving the University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute turned heads and stopped traffic.
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UD Magazine: Grow On
Citizens reclaimed their neighborhood when a partnership among the University of Dayton, East End Community Services and Mission of Mary Cooperative worked to transform the former Lincoln Elementary School site into an urban farm and greenspace. >>Read more
UD Quickly: Grow On
Citizens reclaimed their neighborhood, and UD nourished the partnership.  Read more >>
DDN: UD students, community groups partner to create green space
The University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute and partners East End Community Services, Mission of Mary Cooperative and the Twin Towers neighborhood took steps to transform a former Dayton Public School site into an urban farm and green space. Read more >>
Sustainable Impact
Many of the Institute’s initial successes stemmed from University partnerships, as well as faculty- and student-led research projects. For example, Lincoln Hill Gardens grew from course work in the sustainability, energy and the environment minor, and existing relationships with East End Community Services and Mission of Mary Cooperative.
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City Farming
The University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute and partners East End Community Services, Mission of Mary Cooperative and the Twin Towers neighborhood took the first step in transforming a former Dayton Public School site into an urban farm and green space.
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Photo Gallery
Check out the Lincoln Hill Gardens project.
Photo Gallery

Hanley Sustainability Institute

Fitz Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2950