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Bernheim Edible Garden

Bernheim’s Edible Garden: Exploring the Future of Food

Uniquely focused on deep commitments to sustainability and the ecology of gardening.

Gardens grow more than plants.  Gardens grow our future.  When we ask challenging questions… gardens deliver elegant answers.

Bernheim’s unique Edible Garden highlights the connections between people, plants and place.  Through observation, experimentation, whimsy and digging in the dirt, this Garden helps us understand how the landscapes we design interact with sun, water, air, soil and the natural communities we share within this place.

8-29-13 web aA Laboratory for Regenerative Design
In today’s world there is a great deal of chatter about sustainable design.  Regenerative design is simply taking sustainability to the next level.  Regenerative design asks that we go beyond focusing efforts on being less impactful; less bad.  It challenges us to design like nature.
For example:

  • Instead of focusing on energy reduction, we focus on energy production.
  • Instead of focusing on water conservation, we focus on being a healthy part of our local water cycle.

What better laboratory for this kind of thinking than a garden at Bernheim surrounded by the wisdom of nature?

aerial web bThe Living Building Challenge

Bernheim is committed to leading the exploration of sustainability in our region. As part of that leadership, the Edible Garden is designed to the most rigorous green design standards as set forth by the Living Building Challenge.  To receive LBC certification the garden MUST meet or exceed 20 design imperatives. Each individual imperative is difficult to achieve on its own, but collectively, they separate LBC certified projects from 99.9 % of all other sustainably designed projects.  Bernheim broke new ground when we opened our Visitor Center, the first LEED® Platinum building in our region.  We are aiming even higher with the Edible Garden which is expected to be the first fully certified LBC project in Kentucky.

Here are five of the 20 imperatives the garden is designed to meet:

  • Net Zero Energy -the project will generate more electricity than it consumes
  • Net Zero Water – The garden operates using only water received from nature
  • Improved Ecology – The garden site will be ecologically healthier at completion
  • Embodied Carbon Footprint – The ecological footprint will be tracked, measured and offset
  • Local Design – the garden will be matched to local conditions and built from local materials

To find out more about the Living Building Challenge go to and read the standard.

Integrated Design
Integrated design is a creative process that values input from the entire community of the garden stakeholders.  For this project that includes architects, engineers, scientists, gardeners, Bernheim members, children, poets, artists, schools, AND the pollinators, plants, sunlight, wind patterns and members of the natural community that will live here.

You can follow the progress of the project at this Edible Garden timeline link.  It is updated frequently, so please stop by often.