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U of T Urban Agriculture Tour

September 18, 2017
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Sky Garden. Photo by Sam Lucchetta

Tuesday, September 12th, marked the launch of Urban Agriculture Week at the University of Toronto. A week of celebrating city-grown veg and communal gardening was kicked off by a guided walking tour of several gardens on campus co-organized by Dig In! Campus Agriculture, Toronto Urban Growers, and the Huron-Sussex Community Garden. I, a novice gardener myself, tagged along to celebrate.

The event started in New College’s D.G Ivey Library, where visitors were welcome to peruse a collection of urban agriculture literature, many of the books formerly belonging to urban agriculture pioneer Jac Smit. Two gardening books were given to two lucky raffle winners. Refreshments were also provided, preparing us for the city hike ahead.

The weather was warm and the sky was clear – the perfect sort of day to enjoy a garden grown tomato. On the roof of the Galbraith Building was our first stop, The Sky Garden. Here, garden volunteers showcased the use of irrigation and hydroponics. The constant water and full-sunlight has definitely helped with growing veggies; tomato plants looked more like tomato hedges, and equally large squashes trailed their stems across the roof. The Sky Garden is also home to honey bees. We were lucky to see some of their honeycomb up close. A volunteer explained that if a queen bee comes out of her hive to confront you, then you have royally messed up.

We headed back down to land, towards the Anthropology Building. Dig In! volunteer, Kristy, showed us a small garden of herbs before taking the group to the Anthropology Greenhouse. Despite being an anthropology student myself, I never realized that the Anthropology Building had a greenhouse. The greenhouse is an almost secret place. Behind a windowless door was a room filled with humidity, sunlight, and bright green seedlings. This is Dig In!’s haven in the colder months, where seedlings are sprouted for springtime. There is a small corner dedicated to vermicomposting.

Another indoor set-up is located in the Sidney Smith building, and is run by volunteers from the Department of Geography. This garden currently functions as a hydroponic and aquaponic demo, created for the purpose of livening up the student lounge (sometimes referred to by geography students as ‘The Cave’). Main plants grown here include arugula and moss. A single, large goldfish is being housed under the moss growing platform. He/she used to have friends. Hopefully the geography students who use the room keep the fish company.

Visitors moved outside of Sid Smith, where Dig In! volunteers Don and Nelly presented the Sidney Smith Intensive Garden. Although Dig In! members have reported incidents of vegetable theft from this garden, the space still seems to be brimming with goodies. Tomatoes the colour of dark eggplants gleamed in the sun alongside squash flowers that looked like sunbursts. A wooden sign in the garden read, “DON’T STEAL, JOIN US”. Between photographing and admiring the garden, I overheard hopes of taking over the large planters by Sid Smith and incorporating them into the urban agriculture network.

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Huron-Sussex Community Garden. Photo by Sam Lucchetta

From Sid Smith, the tour group was taken to the Huron-Sussex Community Garden. I was stunned by how squirrel-proofed this garden was. Netting covered several raised beds filled with veggies and flowers. Béatrice Lego, the volunteer coordinator for the Huron-Sussex garden explained that the garden functions as a ‘shared garden’. All of those who contribute to the garden’s wellbeing share a single harvest. I can imagine that this spot is ideal for hosting corn roasts, since it’s so spacious, colourful, and shaded.

The final two stops, the University of Toronto Student Union (UTSU) and Hart House gardens, are a part of Dig In’s initiatives. Don and Nelly again took to providing info on these spaces. The UTSU Garden wraps around the UTSU building and its ramp, and currently consists of squash, berries, and donated mushroom logs. The Hart House garden has unfortunately fallen victim to construction. Only the day before had I been weeding and harvesting in front of Hart House, so I was surprised to see massive test pits in the garden the day of the tour. There is still hope that some of the garden can be salvaged post-construction. The day before the tour, Dig In! volunteers harvested a bounty of carrots, chard, tomatillos, and sage from the Hart House garden. Despite the test pits, there were many self-seeded vegetables still growing comfortably (this brings to mind a common saying I keep hearing amongst long term Dig In! volunteers: “Goes to show once you start a garden, it’s easy to keep it growing.”) Visitors were invited to harvest herbs. I took chamomile, lemon balm, and mint. I brewed a tea with them later that evening. The sun was setting by the end of the tour, and thus the first day of Urban Agriculture Week came to a close.

– Sam Lucchetta, Dig In! Campus Agriculture volunteer

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Sept. 11 Workday & Sept. 12 Campus Garden Tour

September 7, 2017

IMG_3485We are pleased to announce the following upcoming events. Please join us!

Monday, September 11, 4 – 6 p.m.
Garden Work & Learn Day
Hart House Garden

Come learn the basics of vegetable gardening with a hands-on workshop. Practice what you learn and help to harvest. Enjoy the benefits of participating by rewarding your body while providing food for those in need. Harvests are distributed among volunteers and donated to the U of T Food Bank, Harvest Noon café and/or The Scott Mission’s Food Bank and meals program.

Meet us at the Arbor Room entrance on the south side of Hart House at 4 p.m. or soon thereafter.

Tuesday, September 12, 1:30 p.m.
Public Launch for the Urban Agriculture Network, followed by a Campus Garden Tour
New College Library, 20 Willcocks

Co-organized with Toronto Urban Growers (TUG) as part of Urban Agriculture Week Sept. 9-17

Come celebrate the Launch of Urban Agriculture week @ UofT, an exciting week of food and community building that will culminate with Mayor Tory’s announcement of September 15th as Urban Agriculture day in Toronto.

On Sept. 12, 2017, the D.G Ivey Library at New College will welcome the general public to attend an official launch of a unique and rare collection of Urban Agriculture literature. This collection was the legacy of the late urban agriculture pioneer Jac Smit and includes diverse literature from around the world.

After perusing the collection, grab some refreshments, your walking shoes and we will go on a tour of urban agriculture initiatives across the St. George campus.

Light refreshments available. Click here for further details!

Please register as soon as possible as space is limited:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/urban-ag-uoft-launch-tickets-37568653855

Tours will include the following stops (Approx 2 hours):

1) The Sky Garden

2) The Anthropology garden and greenhouse

3) The Aquaponic demo system

4) Sydney Smith intensive garden

5) The Huron-Sussex Community garden

6) University of Toronto Student Union garden

7) Gardens at Hart House

For more information on urban agriculture day and exciting events please check the following websites:

Urban Ag Day: https://uadayto.wordpress.com/

Toronto Urban Growers: http://torontourbangrowers.org/

Toronto Food Policy Council: http://tfpc.to/tag/urban-agriculture

New College: http://www.newcollege.utoronto.ca/

Dig In! Campus Agriculture Returns!

September 6, 2017
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Strawberries, lavender, and sage transplanted to the UTSU garden this summer

But we need your help to continue.

Despite the inactivity of the Food Policy Council and the loss of Hart House garden space this past summer, long-time Dig In! volunteers have continued to garden on campus. Although a mysterious guerilla gardener planted annuals in the Hart House plot, Dig In! was informed we would lose access to the space due to upcoming construction. We were able to move our perennials (rhubarb, mint, lavender, strawberries, sage) to the UTSU Equity Garden, and had a successful garlic harvest. Although the garden has been mostly untended this year, lots of annuals from previous years self-seeded (e.g., tomatoes, kale, parsley). It goes to show that once you establish a garden, it’s easy to maintain with just a little intervention.

See below for more information about upcoming construction. We are working with Hart House to ensure at least some space remains for us to use as an herb garden post-construction.

We need your help to continue! Currently the club is being run by three long-time volunteers, only one of whom is a student (and only part-time, in her final year). We need students to take over, to get this club back to what it once was: student led – student fed! Don, Nelly, and Kristy will continue to provide mentorship, but we need students actively involved in the organization to keep it alive! We also welcome the participation of staff, faculty, and community members.

Please email us if you want to get involved or take on a more active leadership role this year.

Hart House Construction Notice

Hart House’s mandate is to provide an inclusive, accessible, safe space for all and this includes upgrading our century-old building over the next few years. We are looking to not only repair and maintain Hart House, but to create rejuvenated spaces that will help launch us into the next century.
 
From May to December 2017, we are in the process of refreshing the Arbor Room, the adjoining food services area and the entrance and patio on the south east side of building. Providing a fully accessible entrance to this popular location is of utmost importance. To accommodate this necessary upgrade, the adjoining garden area will need to be removed. Perennial plants from the garden have been relocated to the UTSU Equity Garden.

Over the seasons, this garden has been lovingly tended by volunteers from Dig In! Hart House has been a long-time partner of campus agriculture and we will continue to advocate the work that they do and are looking into ways to support them through our programming. 
 
For more information on Hart House renovations, visit http://harthouse.ca/renewal

These cute sparrows are here to remind y

October 19, 2016

These cute sparrows are here to remind you to come to the UTFPC garden workday TODAY from 2-4! Meet outside Sammy`s http://ow.ly/i/o8F2X

Garden Workday this Thursday May 12th, 2

May 10, 2016

Garden Workday this Thursday May 12th, 2:30-4pm
Meet us at the Sammy’s patio on the South side of Hart House. Dress for the weather in clothes that can get dirty, and bring gloves if you have them.
RSVP to campusagriculture@gmail.com if want to join us in the garden!

Real Food Real Jobs March this Wednesday

May 10, 2016

Real Food Real Jobs March this Wednesday!! http://ow.ly/i/jeopB

At the end of the winter term we launche

May 5, 2016

At the end of the winter term we launched the Campus Food Survey to assess how students and the campus community feel about food on campus. We are planning on presenting the results to Food Services and Campus Admin to help inform the new changes in the campus food contract.
If you are a student, staff, or faculty member, please fill it out and let us know what you think.
(should only take a couple minutes to complete)
http://goo.gl/forms/1nRzfRujKQ