> Tampa Urban Benefit Farms

The TUB Farm school gardens are uniquely poised to succeed as thriving school gardens.

Can the good old school-garden really have an innovation moment? Yes, it can. Agriculture is a field ripe for change. The way we currently farm has a disastrous impact on our Earth. Hundreds of years of the same old methods have led to environmental and food scarcity problems.

Not to mention we are now as individuals so distant from our food sources that we are lacking a real appreciation of what goes into our bodies. So how can a school garden help solve this problem you ask? It can become a vehicle to teach our youth about these global problems while simultaneously becoming part of the solution.

Founders of TUB Farms (from L to R) Nava Kirk, Rachel White, Tirzah Zielinski, and Fiona Lake

We began Tampa Urban Benefit Farms (aka TUB Farms) with the idea of a giving farm, designed it as a modern hydroponic one with the capacity to grow enough food to make a difference for local at-need families, while also functioning as a teaching farm. We then dissected it into manageable tasks, split it up across schools all over Tampa Bay, and stayed on as an active collaborative partner for our schools. We installed our first mini school “farm” in the fall of 2015. Four years later we have programs at five schools, have taught hundreds of students how to grow hydroponically, and have donated hundreds of pounds of produce back into the Tampa Bay community.

Students showing their Thanksgiving donation to Meals on Wheels of Tampa. All vegetables donated were incorporated into meals for the homebound of Tampa Bay. TUB Farms regularly partners with MOW and other organizations as a source of fresh veggies for those in need.

The TUB Farm school gardens are uniquely poised to succeed as thriving school gardens because of our dedication as an active partner with our schools. Our active partnership gives teachers the confidence that the garden will thrive all year long without wondering if they will have enough seedlings, nutrients, meters, plus we give assistance to plant and harvest and to maintain the systems if they break.

Imagine dozens of school TUB Farms teaching: sustainable agriculture, technology, nutrition, civic responsibility, and providing a significant source of fresh vegetables to those in need. That is a real difference. Who knows, these seeds of learning we give our students today may inspire them to innovate the future of agriculture.


TUB Farms provides all seeds and seedlings to its partner schools. Often these seedlings are grown under hydroponic lights to optimize transfer into the hydroponic systems.

Why Hydroponics: It is the future of agriculture. It uses sustainable growing and water conservation methods. We can install these systems anywhere – indoors and out. Plus, the vertical design lends itself easily to a garden design of widespread rows where classes can walk through and learn with ease.

The numbers: An average TUB Farm school garden has a footprint between 400-600 sq ft but grows vertically for an average growing space of 2,000-3,000 sq ft.

What we grow: Lots of love. Love for vegetables, innovative gardening and for helping our community. In addition to all that love, we grow lots of veggies too! We grow a large variety of vegetables and edible flowers so that we are exposing our students to new vegetables and ideas of what is edible. We grow everything from tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, nasturtium, Thai basil, herbs, scallions, kale, Swiss chard, strawberries, and so much more.

What’s next: Expanding to more schools and incorporating renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

Tampa Urban Benefit Farms

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