Edible Gardens

Overview:

Plants and vegetation features across campus contribute to creating a beautiful campus environment at UCalgary. These features have a number of benefits, making the campus more resilient to flooding, supporting biodiversity, and promoting mental and physical wellbeing. In some cases, they also offer tasty treats! While some members of the campus community have picked up on these fruitful locations, others pass by unaware of the gifts readily available to them.  In collaboration with University of Calgary stakeholders from Crowsnest Residence Hall, Campus Architecture, the Office of Sustainability, and a Peer Helper group designing an interactive Sustainability Map, the Edible Gardens Peer Helper group set out to raise awareness for the goodness growing around the University of Calgary campus.

By increasing awareness of the location and types of provisions available, the goal of this project was to boost access to healthy, local produce and to lower food insecurity among the campus community. Moreover, this project sought to encourage students, staff, and campus visitors to critically think about where the food they consume comes from, to help connect the community closer to their food sources. The utilization of the gardens has great potential to increase the overall wellbeing of the UCalgary community by creating a positive social and environmental impact on campus through nutritious accessible food choices and lowered food waste. Educating the community on sustainable harvesting practices and the benefits of utilizing local food sources were key goals of this project. Another desired outcomes was to foster a strong sense of belonging amongst the campus community.

Outcomes:

  • The Campus as a Learning Lab (CLL) group members worked with the university Campus Architecture team and completed a draft for the Edible Garden signage. This included information that would be displayed as well as the locations. The group received funding and the sign will be installed. 
  • The group members involved created a toolkit with resources for the students taking over the project the following year. The toolkit includes promotional material templates, merchandise, a list of external funding opportunities, and ideas for the signage.
  • Partnership with the Sustainability Interactive Map project will result in adding the Edible Gardens locations into the campus map.

Next Steps:

  • The Edible Gardens CLL group will continue to apply for funding to place signs outside of  all the gardens found on campus.
  • Collaborate further with the Sustainability Interactive Map to finalize edible garden location placement on the campus sustainability map.
  • Make connections with the Writing Symbols Lodge and other members of the community to ensure that the signage includes information written in Treaty 7 Indigenous languages.
  • Social media will be employed to inform the campus community about the edible gardens, and future engagement booths will be run to achieve this same goal and engage a wider audience of people across campus.