Growing a garden for everyone

Exploring the Ag Campus' Community Garden

- September 25, 2014

Community members making use of the Community Garden. (Faculty of Agriculture photos)
Community members making use of the Community Garden. (Faculty of Agriculture photos)

As fall temperatures begin to cool and thoughts turn to harvesting summer gardens, so too do the patrons of Dalhousie Agricultural Campus’ Community Garden.

Hidden among the famous Alumni Gardens, the Rock Garden and the Herb Garden on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus is one amazing little garden with its own unique story. From strawberries to blueberries and asparagus to rhubarb, the Community Garden is the proud home to many different fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers. An ice breaker for new students and a place of tranquility for local gardeners, the Community Garden has lots to offer to the university and local community.

In 2009, Environmental Science student Meghan Sommers started the Community Garden as her fourth-year project. Now, five years later, the 500-square-foot garden is thriving as an essential part of the campus and the surrounding community. Consisting of 50 plots and approximately 75 gardeners, the garden acts as a place for community members, faculty, staff and students to experiment and share gardening ideas.

For $15 a year, individuals or groups can rent a plot to plant their own personal garden. With garden tools, compost, mulch and some seeds and transplants available, gardeners are only responsible for providing their own organic seeds and enthusiasm. 

Bringing people together

Community Garden Coordinator Jessica Fogarty is a third-year Plant Science student. In her first term in the role, she is responsible for coordinating the rented plots, cleaning the garden in the spring, seed orders and other general garden issues or inquiries. An avid gardener herself, Jessica also tends to her own plot in the garden.

Jessica explains that many of the students who use the Community Garden are international students. Coming from different countries around the world, they see the garden as a social tool.

“For some international students it can be hard to break the ice,” she says. “Gardening helps them to break the language barrier and make friends. It’s also neat to see all of the different techniques that are being used. Everyone has their own technique to gardening or their own organic spray to use and it’s nice to see them collaborating their ideas.”

When gardening in the Community Garden, gardeners are encouraged to use organic seeds and to follow the Organic Standards of Canada. That means no herbicides or pesticides are allowed in the garden.

“It’s nice to know your neighbor isn’t spraying something that’s going to drift over to your plants,” Jessica explains.

Plants and vegetables of all types

Coordinating the garden is no small task. For Jessica, it seems like there’s always something to be done. She explains they try to tackle one major project each year, as there is always some sort of pest to deal with. This year, they installed a deer fence to try and keep local deer from eating the plants and vegetables.

“The deer still seem to be getting in somehow,” Jessica says. “I think they must be going under the fence somehow, so that’s something we’ll have to look into.”

Dalhousie Agricultural Campus’ Community Garden is home to plants and vegetables of all different shapes, sizes and varieties. Not only is it a place for growing plants, it’s a place for making friends and trying new things.

Learn more about food gardens on campus at the Dalhousie Office of Sustainability website.


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