Community Gardens

Monday, January 05, 2009

CSAF - Green Space and Recreational Space

I promised I would talk about CSAF more, or if I didn't... well I am now. Let's start with an anecdote, yeah that always draws people in.

Today I met up with two old friends, both alumnus from the University. We talked a bit about how things are going but eventually it all came back to how things have changed on campus. Kneil and Chris have been away for about 3 years in British Columbia, so they have basically had no contact with Ottawa, let alone the campus. Anyways, this is besides the point. I gave them a tour of the campus and they remarked at some of the changes that have happened over the years.

Okay so this the part where I break from the story and tie the two points together with a revealing and shocking hook. It turns out that Kneil is one of the first hard core members of Green Campus. He was the guy that got the community garden started here on campus back in 2003. Yeah that guy! It is unfortunate that the garden wasn’t available for touring (it being winter and all), but it did get me thinking about why we don’t have more community gardens on campus.

A few years back I had a conversation about getting more gardens on campus. Maybe some small plots which employees could work on in the summer time during their lunch? Maybe some research gardens for students and professors? What about growing food for the Good Food Box Program? But I really haven’t done much about it since.

Well there are some new developments. First, some land has become available on King Edward. Well not exactly available but not exactly unavailable if you know what I mean. Well I guess I am trying to say that there is a possibility that a good chunk of space could be available the garden development. Also, the University of Ottawa has hired a new grounds keeper, Benoit, who is an actually horticulturalist. Benoit is super keen to make this campus green (please excuse this terrible rhyme).

Now we have these two important ingredients already in play and here comes the third, a public push for more locally grown food. Obviously it is not realistic to assume that we could grow all our own food on campus today, maybe in the future but not today. So that leaves one last ingredient that we need to make this soup happen, a student group or organization willing to take the proverbial torch and getting this thing rolling.

And oh yes, what does this have to do with CSAF? One of the metrics that is observed is green space and another is recreational space on campus. Community gardens fulfill both of these indicators but even more they bring together people, they promote sharing and equality, and maybe, just maybe they could help a campus find its soul.

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