Capitol Vegetable Garden

Our demonstration garden at the Capitol Building in Madison

Since 2010, Rooted and its partners have managed a vegetable garden at the east corner of the Capitol Square. With this small, 350-square-foot garden, we demonstrate to visitors from across the state the beauty and diversity of food grown by Madison gardeners.

Who planted the Capitol Vegetable Garden?

The Capitol Vegetable Garden was first planted in 2010 by Madison FarmWorks, a Rooted-based project promoting home gardening. Since then, Rooted has been responsible for the garden’s care and maintenance, though the labor to plan and maintain the space has been shared with organizations across Madison. The garden itself exists thanks to a wide array of groups, people, and organizations who support food and gardening projects in Dane County.  

The 2023 garden is planted and maintained as a collaborative effort of TradeRoots, Urban Triage, and Rooted. You can learn more about TradeRoots and Urban Triage in the boxes below. Our three organizations are responsible for the garden’s care and maintenance, though the plants for the garden come from a wide array of people and groups in Dane County, including UW-Extension, Rooted’s Troy Farm, and Four Winds Farm.

What is growing in the garden?

The 2023 garden is divided into 8 sections. As you walk around the garden, you’ll find a selection of celosia, collards, squash, basil, parsley, and other herbs and vegetables (see map below). Many of the vegetables featured this year are important crops of the African diaspora, including collards and celosia. Celosia is a leafy green native to West Africa which can be eaten sautéed or stewed. This crop, also harvested by HMoob gardeners, is called txhuv qaum ntuj in HMoob, or heavenly grain, and was at one time grown for its edible seeds, though it is now mostly also harvested for its greens and leaf tips by HMoob gardeners.

Vegetables are attractive to both people and other animals, and this year we have had some crop losses to our peppers, eggplant, and okra, likely from testing by rabbits and squirrels. You may notice sections with smaller plants, where we’ve planted cucumbers, cabbage, oregano, and additional peppers to fill gaps caused by this damage. Celosia seedlings have also grown on their own, likely from last year’s seeds, and we have left them in sections where animals have eaten more of the crops we planted.

The vegetables are just a small selection of what is grown by gardeners in Dane County. We hope they inspire you to try your hand at growing a new vegetable in your garden!

What happens to the food grown in the Capitol Vegetable Garden?

The Capitol Vegetable Garden is intended to be an educational, demonstration garden. Of course, we know that visitors may grab a basil or collard leaf to chew on, but we ask that you leave most of the crops grown here so that others can enjoy seeing the garden. The produce harvested from the garden will be donated to the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center and Kennedy Heights food pantries.

Trade Roots logo
TradeRoots is a Madison-based group of farmers and chefs with roots in Wisconsin and West Africa. TradeRoots catalyzes horticultural, culinary, and seedkeeping activities in the community to establish sustainable urban farming systems in Madison focused on crops relevant to the African diaspora.
Learn about TradeRoots
Urban Triage, Inc., is a Madison nonprofit on a mission to foster, develop, and strengthen Black economic power, Black families’ self-sufficiency, community leadership, advocacy, and family success through transformational education, psycho-education, community engagement, trauma recovery, and cultural heritage.
Learn about Urban Triage

2023 Garden map

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