Our Story

The original team behind Garden-in-a-Cup was comprised of three graduate students studying landscape architecture at the University of Colorado Denver – College of Architecture & Planning. Our careers now span the disciplines of art and landscape architecture. We may have followed different paths upon graduating, but one thing is for certain: we still love getting our hands dirty.

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Time spent in graduate school was often fueled by copious amounts of caffeine and, lucky for us, there was no shortage of coffee shops within walking distance of campus. Frustrated by the number of cups that ended up in the trash, we created a voluntary coffee/tea recycling program at the University of Colorado Denver. Our team collected the to-go cups from UCD students, faculty, and staff, and used the cups as vessels to plant seeds (both edible and ornamental).

Once grown, these mini gardens are distributed anonymously throughout the city, offering a second life for the collected cups. Each Garden-in-a-Cup is then tracked and includes a QR code that enables the ‘Finder’ to link back to our website for more information about the project. ‘Finders’ are encouraged to interact with our website and contribute to the mapping component that evaluates our reach across our community.

This project serves as a model for any city–it has been implemented in Denver and New York City, and is currently taking hold in Boston. We hope that this project gives the field of landscape architecture greater cultural relevance and public visibility, and creates potential for partnership with deserving organizations.