Dig In! has accomplished so much in the last four weeks! We kicked off our work day season on Monday, April 30 when we had Homeland Garden Centre deliver three cubic metres of organic compost to the Huron-Sussex Community Garden. Volunteers, which included enthusiastic Japanese students on campus for the Anthropology Osaka University RESPECT Summer Exchange Program, came out to help us amend our garden beds.
On May 2 we set up a roof garden on top of the Faculty Club, using the same sub-irrigated planters used by Sky Garden. We are currently in discussions to obtain more planters, donated by Toronto Urban Farmers, so we can expand this project to include a pollinator garden with U of T Bees. We were a little nervous about the giant wind storm that swept through the city on May 4, but amazingly our little Faculty Club garden, including the delicate seedlings, escaped the winds unscathed.
On May 3, we officially announced our merger with Regenesis. With chapters at universities across Ontario, Regenesis aims to empower students to address environmental issues. At U of T, they run programs around sustainable food, waste diversion, and are working on establishing a Youth Food Centre in collaboration with Campus Co-op. Dig In! is now officially a Regenesis initiative, and we are so excited to work alongside them and other allies across campus to expand our garden network.
On Monday, May 7, we gathered at Campus Co-op to paint new garden signs. It’s important to have visibly appealing signage at our gardens so passers-by who wish to get involved know how to reach us.
On May 9, we planted kale, brussel sprouts, zucchini, and various herb seedlings in our new Human Biology garden at New College. We also had volunteers simultaneously plant kale and zucchini seedlings at our Sid Smith plot. Due to past challenges of squirrels (and people!) stealing our harvest from Sid Smith, we’ve surrounded the garden with green netting to deter thieves.
May 14 we were back at the Human Biology plot digging out deep roots with shovels so we could sow some radish seeds. Prof. William Ju came out and gave us some black currant, Nanking cherry and goji berry seedlings. We planted the black currants at the HB garden since they should thrive in the relatively shady garden. Since the cherries and gojis require more sun, we gave the Nanking cherries to our friends at the Huron-Sussex Community Garden to complete their recently added fruit hedge. The gojis will live in the Anthropology Greenhouse until we can identify a suitable home for them on campus next year.
On May 16 we attempted to construct two raised bed gardens behind Campus Co-op with funding received from the U of T Centre for Community Partnerships Community-Engaged Initiatives Grant. Unfortunately, we neglected to make arrangements for a power saw. So instead, we retrieved our recently painted garden signs from Campus Co-op and placed them around our gardens, putting up posters soliciting garden volunteers and weeding our gardens along the way.
We skipped the May 21 work day due to the stat holiday, and on May 23 we were back at Campus Co-op, this time with a power saw, to finally build those raised beds!
The garlic, rhubarb and strawberries at our UTSU Equity Garden are looking great! We’ll kick off our May 28 work day there for weeding and other maintenance (*note our start time will be 3pm instead of our regular 4pm start on May 29). On May 30, we will return to Campus Co-op to fill our raised beds with soil and transplant some seedlings into them.
We hope you can join us at a future work day! Our regular work days are every Monday and Wednesday from 4-6pm. Meeting locations vary, so stay tuned via our listserv for meeting locations, and variances in start times. Subscribe to our listserv here.
We’ve started lots of great projects this spring, but we rely on volunteers like you to ensure these gardens are well maintained. The better we care for our gardens, and the more we can show students care about growing food on campus, the more likely we will be able to expand with more projects in future years. A special thanks to all the volunteers who have helped ensure a very successful spring planting season!
~Kristy Bard, Dig In! Campus Agriculture Co-ordinator