Trends come and go, and often provided little more than a blip of information or insight. But one trend that seems to be ever-growing – and for good reason – is that of environmental friendliness and, for specifically, supporting local food.
Many school communities have adopted practices that implement these new values and beliefs. The new Teaching and Community Garden located directly on the McMaster campus is part of the effort here.
The garden opened up on July 10 to reveal a lively and spacious community open and available to all McMaster students and residents of Hamilton interested in taking part in growing their own local and fresh fruits and vegetables.
“There is definitely a growing trend towards urban agriculture, and it was only a matter of time before the University jumped on something like this,” explained Michael Lee, who is working at the garden on a University Sustainability Internship.
The garden was spearheaded by Julianne Bagg and Emily Taylor, two students in the Integrated Sciences Program (iSci), who have been working towards implementing the project for the last seven months. Putting together a budget, organizing the location, determining the groups and departments that would be involved and designing a strategic plan for the space have been some of the necessary steps Bagg, Taylor and Lee have taken.
Through related efforts, the MSU has been discussing plans of a new green roof for part of MUSC.
“We would love to have a connection between the two projects,” explained Lee. “Seeing as they’re both on campus and both involve local produce, collaboration between the groups would be great”.
The produce being grown has been on sale at Mac Farmstand. The garden managers are looking forward to donating the products in the future to Mac Bread Bin and potentially other community charities and food banks. The garden works in a way that allows community residents to come and take part in the growth of produce that will in turn be given back to the community.
The garden plans on running “Open Garden Sessions” on Tuesdays that will allow students and residents to help cultivate the plants and develop a better understanding of where food comes from.
The garden currently boasts a wide variety of produce, ranging from tomatoes, onions, peppers, three different types of eggplant, chard, beets, beans, lettuces and a series of herbs and spices.
“We even have a pumpkin plant,” said Lee.
With such a wide variety of plant life, the group running the garden is hopeful that it will spark an interest in the community and encourage people to come out and contribute.
The group has also partnered with the Faculty of Science, which includes the Integrated Sciences program, to allow for a space to conduct educational programs for students interested in learning more about the plants that are currently growing there.
The garden is located on the North Side of the General Sciences Building. You can check out their webpage through the Sustainability at McMaster website to view a calendar that includes dates and times of Open Garden Sessions.