Apr 24, 2023 - Things to Do

8 eco-friendly things to do at Charlotte’s Innovation Barn

innovation barn

Consider sipping your coffee and soaking in the views of the Charlotte skyline. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

The Innovation Barn is Charlotte’s sustainability hub — where people can do everything from drop off compost to pick up freshly grown lettuce.

Why it matters: The city-funded project, located inside a 36,000-square-foot former horse barn in the Belmont neighborhood, focuses primarily on sustainability. Inside, you can see how a circular economy works.

“If you want to understand sustainability or how you can make a difference, there is no other place you could go to other than here to learn about it and engage with other like-minded people,” Innovation Barn, Envision Charlotte executive director Amy Aussieker tells me.

Details: The Innovation Barn is located at 932 Seigle Ave.

  • It’s open Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm and Saturdays 1-4pm. Closed on Sunday and Monday.

The bottom line: This place is cool, and you should take advantage of everything it has to offer because it’s good for our city and our planet.

Here are eight things to see and do at the Innovation Barn: 

Grab a coffee and support homeless mothers at Change Please Café

Change Please is an internationally-based nonprofit, where 100% of coffee sales are used to support people experiencing homelessness. 

  • Charlotte’s coffee shop, the nonprofit’s first venture in the U.S., specifically caters to mothers experiencing homelessness.

Details: Right now they’re only serving coffee and tea but hope to serve food, wine and beer in the future.

  • They’re open Monday-Friday from 7am-2pm.
Change Please cafe
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Go deeper: New Innovation Barn coffee shop supports homeless mothers

Drop off your food scraps at Crown Town Compost

Crown Town Compost, which composts waste for local businesses and residents, is headquartered at The Innovation Barn.

How it works: For $20 a month, you can drop off a 3.5-gallon bin (which they provide).

  • For $35, Crown Town will pick up the bin from your curb every other week.
  • For $39, they’ll pick it up at your apartment.
  • Of note: You can compost all food scraps, including meat and dairy.
Composting at the Innovation Barn. Courtesy of Crown Town Composting

What you bring in goes into one of two places: the traditional composter, or fed to the flies.

Zoom in: Most of the stuff that the flies get fed come from The Bulb — a nonprofit that gets from farms and local grocery stores and redistributes it to people in need in more than a dozen neighborhoods across the Charlotte metro area.

Fix your bike at the Re-Cyclery

Charlotte Re-Cyclery is a community bike shop program by the local nonprofit Trips for Kids Charlotte

How it works: No appointment is needed; just swing by with your bike and use the tools available for you at the shop.

Of note: If the repair is more complex, you might want to contact them first. 

  • Minor adjustments and safety checkups range from $20-$35. 
  • Full tune-ups range from $60-100, depending on the bicycle’s condition and parts.
  • General repairs take about 1-2 weeks.
  • If you have any questions, email [email protected] or call 704.910.3970. 

The big picture: Every year Trips For Kids Charlotte receives thousands of bicycle donations to support the organization’s youth and community programs. The Charlotte Re-Cyclery uses donated bikes for hands-on education and upcycling. 

Details: The Re-Cyclery is open Wednesday-Friday 11am-7pm, Saturday 11am-4pm, closed Sunday-Tuesday.

innovation barn
The Re-Cyclery. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Repurpose old clothes at Spring Clean Global

Spring Clean Global is a local nonprofit focusing on sustainable fashion.

  • They host sewing workshops using recycled clothes, swap-n-shops (where you bring old clothes and trade them in for new ones and they host fashion shows with eco-friendly designs made by local artists.)
  • Keep up with them on Instagram.
Innovation Barn
Photo: Laura Barrero

Pick up some gourmet lettuce at the Saturday pop-up market

Inside The Innovation Barn, you’ll spot rows of lettuce incubators. That lettuce is available at Mariposa, a restaurant inside the Mint Museum Uptown; inside Something Classic meals at the grocery store; and for sale every Saturday from 1-4pm at the Innovation Barn Market.

Innovation Barn
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Take a tour

Envision Charlotte offers tours of the Innovation Barn to the public twice a week on a first-come, first-served basis. Public tours are Tuesdays at 1:30pm and Fridays at 10:30am and are limited to 20 people.

  • Group tours for kids in fifth grade or higher are $250 for 30 people or fewer.
  • Group tours for conferences are $250 for a max of 25 people.
Innovation Barn
The aquaponics lab works with the nonprofit 100 Gardens to supply greens for local schools. The nutrient-rich water from the fish tank helps feed the plants. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios


Everyone is welcome to walk in and volunteer during the Innovation Barn’s open hours (Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday 1pm-4pm.)

  • Volunteer opportunities vary from day to day but there is typically something for everyone. 
  • Of note: People under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • For groups, check group availability on the calendar and email  to schedule.

Visit the queen bee at the community apiary

Ally Financial partnered with Envision Charlotte and Bee Downtown to bring a community apiary to The Innovation Barn.


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