The SSMU Courtyard Garden Project aims to transform an underutilized space in the courtyard adjoining the Brown Building and University Centre into a community garden. This garden will encourage a local food cycle where planting, sowing, cooking, preserving, composting and teaching is completed all within the same environment. For example, harvest from the garden will be used in the Student-Run Cafeteria, whose waste will in turn provide compost. The garden will also serve as a space for learning for students at McGill, as well as the SSMU daycare.
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Currently, many of the green spaces found on campus are underused as quiet places to repose, be active, learn and grow foods. The Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) has identified one of these underutilized spaces—a courtyard that adjoins the Brown Student Services Building and the University Centre—and aims to transform it into a community garden.
The SP0157 Courtyard Garden Project will create a garden area to grow a food supply for the Student-Run Cafeteria, while enhancing the aesthetics outside the SSMU building. This garden will be managed by SSMU after its creation and will serve as an open green space for SSMU staff and students. Additionally, it will serve as a green learning centre for the SSMU Daycare children, as basic gardening and planting will be added to the daycare education program. The organic waste produced by the Student-Run Cafeteria will be composted and returned to the garden as fertilizer, creating a closed (and sustainable) food cycle.
The benefits of this project have been broken down as follows:
- Travel emissions from food inputs to the cafeteria will be reduced
- Garden provides a platform to advocate against monoculture farming practices
- SSMU can control how much produce is rejected during the growing process
- Water and pesticide use can be minimized and controlled
- Urban agricultural spaces are known to have positive affects on the mental health of nearby communities
- The garden will provide an interactive learning space for children
- Awareness of our available food production systems and environmental interest can be increased
- Availability of sustainable, local food options on campus are increased
- Costs of cafeteria inputs can be reduced
- Savings incurred from inputs can be passed on in the form of providing cheaper food options on campus, benefiting lower-income students
Once the project is established, it is expected that its use in outdoor activities and events will continually increase, providing exposure for the project and encouraging others to develop similar gardens in compatible locations on campus. Following the construction of the physical garden and composting facilities, SSMU will continue the annual sowing, maintenance and harvesting of the garden, and coordinate with the nearby daycares and collaborating in designing their education program. Resources from the SPF will be used to construct the garden, which includes purchase of wood and construction supplies, painting supplies, a compost tumbler, soil, seeds and watering tools.
The garden will be a physical embodiment of this policy which demonstrates to the Administration that SSMU has the capacity and desire to move beyond supporting sustainable practices on paper to taking definitive action towards sustainability.
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