SP0160: Thomson House Community Garden North Side Upgrade

Status: COMPLETED December 2016 - December 2017

The Thomson House Community Garden North Side Upgrade Project aims to create a durable, community-oriented infrastructure for the Thomson House community gardens by expanding and improving upon the existing gardens. It involves the creation of a series of permanent garden spaces around the north side of Thomson House. The Thomson House Community Garden North Side Upgrade project envisions the creation of an opportunity for graduate students to garden on campus, cultivate skills and engage with urban agriculture and food pathways. Gardening will allow students to be more connected to where food comes from, as well as reduce stress and provide opportunities to meet other likeminded individuals. In addition, the community garden will serve a gathering space that will expose the Thomson House community to local food production. 

Read the full project description

Thomson House is a gathering place for graduate students, their families, and other members of the McGill and Montreal Community. The proposed space around Thomson House is currently underused, and is in a prime location to intersect with the McTavish promenade, creating opportunities for new, interdisciplinary and cultural communities to form and connect. The new garden will provide a location for members of the Thomson House Community Garden to experience, learn about, and experiment with urban agriculture, and will also be a gathering place for the larger McGill and Montreal community, particularly for members of the upper campus. The current Thomson House Community Garden group includes Masters and PhD students from disciplines ranging from English to Engineering and from countries around the world, which has led to a fruitful exchange of ideas. The new Garden space would allow for more of these interactions, as well as increased opportunities for cross-pollination with the Dandelion Collective’s apiary outreach, other PGSS workshops and initiatives like Food Preservation, educational opportunities regarding the reserved Indigenous plants section, community events such as outdoor readings, campus tours, and curious community members exploring the promenade. 

Thus far, the Community Gardens west of Thomson House, a student-run initiative, have used plastic bins that wear out quickly. The soil has had high levels of heavy metals, which have prevented any in-ground planting. The bins, having required regular replacement, are not only wasteful but also prevent any permanent improvement or integration into the McGill and Montreal community. To address this major issue, this project is proposing the use of raised soil beds that will avoid toxic levels of in-ground metals while simultaneously providing a long-term solution which is more economical and environmentally-friendly than the current temporary bin setup, as well as being more accessible to children and people with disabilities. 

In addition to providing improved containers for the soil, the new gardens will be designed with aesthetics complimentary to Thomson House and the McGill landscape. Benches, paths, and open spaces will make the Gardens into a place to sit, talk, and meet-not just bins to pass through when the plants need to be watered. This project will provide a space and opportunity for graduate students to garden on campus, cultivating sills and engaging with urban agriculture and food pathways. The project will expand permanent garden plots as the first phase of a two-phase project to expand the gardens surrounding Thomson House. 

Resources from the SPF will be used to establish the permanent gardens by covering design, materials, and construction costs for the gardens. Additional SPF funds will be used to put on a gardening workshop and to purchase new perennial flowers and fruit bushes. 

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catherine.nygren [at] mail.mcgill.ca (Catherine Nygren)

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