Campus Community Garden
Sustain SU (then ECOS) initiated the Campus Community Garden in collaboration with APIRG during the spring of 2003. This organic, shared-plot garden uses as many sustainable agricultural practices as possible in order to showcase environmentally friendly gardening techniques. The garden is located a few blocks from the University on the north side of 89th avenue, between 110th and 111th Street.
The campus community garden promotes organic farming and food production.
For three years, between 2003 and 2005, the 244 square meter garden was shared between ECOS and the Garneau community. In 2006 ECOS` community garden merged with the Garneau plots to become one large co-operative garden (we do not have individual plots). In 2008 the garden expanded 4 meters to the north and now measures more than 300 square meters. In addition to creating nature connected recreational opportunities for students, the mandate of the garden is to:
- Promote local, organic food production by producing food in a sustainable manner, without the use of pesticides, chemicals or genetically modified plants.
- Provide the campus community with an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge within a living laboratory.
- Provide organic, local, fresh and healthy food for garden volunteers and the wider Edmonton community through either the Campus food bank or similar programs, promoting food security.
- Promote neighbourly involvement and social interaction as means of establishing strong, resilient communities.
The funds needed to create and plant the garden in 2003 originally came from the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG) and a Student Extracurricular Activity Grant (SEA) given by the Dean of Students. Since this time, the garden has been funded through Sustain SU's Operating budget, with additional funding provided by APIRG.
If you would like to join the community garden network email list, please visit our listserv homepage and enter your e-mail address.
Reclaiming urban spaces that have been inundated with concrete and non-native species, the Naturalization Project demonstrates ecological design principles that can reduce the 'footprint' of the University of Alberta.
The site is situated in the courtyard east of the Education Building cafeteria.
The naturalization project reclaims urban spaces with native plant species.
Naturalization Project Mandate
We will work to create a four-season retreat on campus that will:
- Demonstrate the ecological, social, and economic benefits of increasing biodiversity and incorporating native species in urban landscapes
- Demonstrate a landscape technique that conserves energy and water
- Provide a place for community members to experience a hands-on learning environment
Frequently Asked Questions*
What does naturalization mean?
Naturalization, in the horticultural sense, means creating areas that grow plants native to the region.
What are native plants?
Native plants are those that were present historically in an area within a naturally established range, and were not introduced from foreign habitats by humans.
Why are native plant species beneficial?
Using native species has the benefit of reducing the number of resources required to maintain a healthy plant bed.
They are adapted to living here. The key factor that makes an indigenous plant bed more self-sustained is the simple fact that the plants are native to Alberta. Alberta’s long, cold winter season and short growing season - with periods of hot, dry weather- are not ideal conditions for many ornamental plants. Albertan plants, though, have lived here for thousands of generations and are quite hardy; they have evolved to flower in the short window of summer we experience here, they tend to re-seed themselves each year or adopt a perennial life cycle and they are usually quite tolerant of cold, frost and moisture stress.
They require fewer resources. Native plants need much less water, fertilizer and attention to survive, as they are used to the unique Albertan environment. These reductions mean less time and money must be spent on maintenance, and the landscaped area is more sustainable.
They are more resilient to Albertan pests. Therefore, if you choose hardy species that are appropriate for the conditions in your naturalized bed, you will not need to use pesticides to maintain your bed. As an added benefit, once your native species are thriving, they will choke out many weeds, meaning that herbicides will not be necessary and the "beloved" activity of weeding won't be as necessary.
They require less maintenance. The reduced number of resources necessary to sustain an indigenous bed means that much of the bed's maintenance requirements and the associated costs are also reduced, in addition to lessening the ecological footprint you are creating in upkeep.
Due, in part, to the reasons listed above, there is a growing movement in North America for people to incorporate native plants into their own yards. Sustain SU, along with other campus groups, is in the process of making the University an active member of this movement. We are interested in creating naturalized plant beds on campus to show the many benefits of reintegrating natural plant and animal communities into our urban surroundings.
Interested in volunteering?
The Community Garden is always looking for volunteers to come play in the dirt. The garden is operational from May through September; however, there are often planning meetings and greenhouse planting sessions that occur off-season. Anyone interested is encouraged to stop by the garden, preferably during one of the meeting times listed below. .
Students, staff, and community members are all welcome to participate in this garden project. Garden volunteers are responsible for prepping, planting, maintaining harvesting the garden. If you would like to become a volunteer gardener, please email Sustain SU. You will be added to the Community Garden ListServ and will receive continual communication.
The level of experience in gardening ranges from first time planters to dedicated gardeners. To accommodate the diverse knowledge levels, and since volunteers learn experientially from seasoned gardeners and through organized gardening sessions, volunteer training is ongoing.
Sustain SU hires a garden coordinator in the Spring to provide support and knowledge to the volunteers. The garden coordinator also organizes several educational sessions over the summer that provide information on gardening techniques and management.
The Community Garden Coordinator works in the garden throughout the week, but designates three days of the week where volunteers are invited to com join in - Mondays and Wednesday 6-8pm, and Saturdays 12-2pm. However, since there can be unexpected changes, interested gardeners should contact Sustain SU to become members of the ListServ or you can add yourself to the listserv.
Sustain SU hires annually for the position of the Community Garden Coordinator. This position is typically funded by a Human Resources Development Canada student summer jobs grant. As a result, the job posting and hiring timeline are dependent on receiving sufficient funding. However, if you are an interested student and have extensive gardening experience, please email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will let you know the status of the job. Hiring usually occurs in mid to late May.
Monday to Friday
Hours are irregular.
Best available by appointment.
Sustain SU Office
Students' Union Building
University of Alberta
8900 - 114 Street NW