Let's talk about last summer.
Last summer we inaugurated the community garden in its new space at 649 King Edward (that's right, we won the lottery with that space). It replaced the old location which has become the building footprint for the CAPEA building. Thirty five glorious plots to serve the campus community, not bad.
But we already knew that we wouldn't have enough space to meet the demand of the campus and the Sandy Hill community. So while discussing the issue with the Director of Physical Resources Service, he mentioned how McGill University was toying around with the idea of having planters that could be moved around when needed. Mobile gardens... brilliant!
So the group got together and we talked about want this could look like. We had a few ideas but unfortunately there were so many things to do to get our current community garden off the ground, that we quickly forgot about the mobile gardens idea.
That is until an opportunity to look at them again came up in the Natural Resource Management course this past winter. One group from the Community Service Learning opportunity took a look specifically at mobile community gardens. The group came up with a couple of great ideas and this reignited our excitement in the possibility of mobile community gardens on the uOttawa campus.
Now before I go any further, I should highlight some of the great reasons why mobile gardens are a fantastic idea.
- If you don't like where they are, move them
- If the space needs to be used for something else, you can push the garden elsewhere without losing your crops
- Movable gardens means you can bring them closer to where you are on campus, making them more accessible
- The gardens could be placed in certain areas to create interesting architectural features and fun spaces
- Come on... use your imagination... these gardens are mobile!!!
So we poked our heads around and found this interesting concept of half-barrel gardens.Perfect, we actually have a bunch of plastic barrels that we recycle every week. But of course, they aren't very deep and we need to find a way to clean / insulate them so that whatever was in them before isn't an issue for the plants we are growing. So like any good scientists... we decided to experiment.
The Housekeeping and Sanitation team collected some barrels for us (merci les amis!!!) and the guys in the Carpentry Shop cut the barrels and made some handy footings so that they wouldn't tip over (thumbs up mes mecs). And now the fun part; selecting a variety of plants to test out how they are going to grow in our mobile gardens. Of course we need to paint them and we need to place them, but that's the easy stuff. Thanks to the team at Physical Resources and the great ideas from the CSL students, we are well on our way.
So if I had to look into my crystal sustainability ball I would say this, the sky is the limit. We could potentially create gardens all over the campus. We could place them close to spaces that have no green space to plant. We could dress up some of the concrete heavy areas of the campus. Brigitte has already decided that she would like to use the mobile plots as a learning experience for summer campus students.
What about you? Where should we take this project next?
~jON - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo