A haven for green thumbs

By Wendy Maloff

Students concerned over the loss of campus green space to construction should take heart, as the University of Calgary has acquired a community garden.

The creation of the "Campus Community Garden" is the result of a proposal submitted to the 2001 President’s Challenge contest. The proposal, submitted by students Christy Bryceland, Erin Despard and Yori Jamin, describes a large garden maintained by the U of C community and received second place in the challenge.

According to Despard, the original idea for the garden came from The Sierra Youth Coalition.

"We [the SYC] had a conference last fall and did a lot of fundraising," said Despard. "We had some surplus and decided to use it to start a community garden. We thought the campus was a good place to do that, then when we heard about the President’s Challenge we thought it would be a good means of establishing [the garden]."

To mark their success and the launch of the garden’s construction, the three second-place winners and their supporters hosted a garden party in the Administration Building atrium May 25. As the garden will be organically grown, guest speaker Rosemary Giberson provided a brief lecture on the principles of organic gardening. Giberson, a farm owner since 1984, holds a masters degree in genetics and has been a certified organic grower since 1998.

Giberson described the ups and downs of an organic operation and discussed important factors such as the harmful effects of agricultural chemicals on the environment and windbreaks in the Calgary climate. Giberson explained that her "passion for organics" led to her involvement in the garden.

According to Despard, a focus of the three founders is to help build a sense of community on campus.

"We really see this garden as a learning process," she said. "It’s a really good way to allow students to apply the ideas that they’ve come across in their education.We hope to provide an avenue that’s non-threatening and friendly, where people can get involved and express their ideals for environmentalism and social justice."

"I think a lot of the world’s problems will be solved ultimately through the culture of sustainable living," agreed Jamin.

Construction of the garden, located behind the Physical Plant, began the weekend of May 26-27. The garden will be a communal plot for the first planting year, with the addition of individual plots in subsequent years. Produce from the garden will be donated to the U of C food bank and, if possible, allocated to volunteer gardeners.

For more information regarding the garden or volunteering, interested students can contact Erin Despard by phone at 220-5213 or email ekdespar@ucalgary.ca.

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