Monday, August 19, 2013

Urb Garden at the Madison Children's Museum


My new employer, and one of the hippest places in town, the Madison Children's Museum, just opened their newest exhibit: the "Urb Garden."

This new space is a small deck that overlooks the back parking lot, but it packs a big punch. One of goals of the exhibit is to display a variety of urban gardening techniques, to show what's possible in an urban space (the middle of a parking lot!) without a lot of square footage. Many of these ideas can be replicated in any backyard or even balcony. And they're fun for kids!

Here's the whole deck, just off of North Hamilton St. on the Capitol Square in Madison (looking at the people on the left gives a sense of scale):


Besides being visually striking, the deck is chock full of cool activities and awesome details that really make it come to life.

There's the seating area with wooden stumps for chairs and window boxes (left photo), the solar oven and chalkboard and thermometer (middle photo), and the vertical gardens (right photo):


There's the Aquaponics system, in which "fish and plants grow together!"--installed with the help of the UW Office of Sustainability (more information on the partnership here):


There's the vermicomposting setup. The caption reads: "Worms! These worms eat food scraps and turn them into the healthiest soil around":


There's the exciting music-making setup made of old tools, and the chickens (borrowed from the Museum's equally-cool space, the Rooftop Ramble):


And one of my favorite little quirky details, there are the tiny mementos and doodads stuck into the mortar of the central structure's walls! I was around the day they were completing this wall, and if only I'd had a suitable knick-knack on me, I could've been a permanent part of the exhibit. Bummer.


On the whole, this is an inspiring new space that is totally worth a visit, with kids or without. Like so many of the Children's Museum spaces, the Urb Garden manages to offer enrichment and education to kids of all ages while still making it fun, accessible, adventurous. The sustainability lessons are woven into the patchwork of all that goes on here, and permeate the experience of the Museum.

Check it out!

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And lots of links to coverage of the Urb Garden's opening:

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