Many students are unaware of the patch of life that is growing between Dalhousie’s buildings, nestled behind the Goldberg Computer Science Building. Dalhousie’s Urban Garden Society has created a green space in the middle of the city where students can grow and harvest a variety of fruits and vegetables.
A short walk from the SUB, the garden is in a key location for Dalhousie students. This year, Landon Getz and Zoe Rhiannon are working to make sure that more people know about the little green oasis.
“I started two years ago, mostly because I found it very calming,” says Getz, external coordinator of DUGS. “When you’re busy with school and stuff, it’s nice to take a bit of time out of your day and put your hands in the dirt. From there, I started to realize the potential of being able to grow food on small plots of land like this.”
DUGS Mission statement is about promoting food security and educating the public on what they can do to get involved.
“Personally, food and having access to healthy food is a huge issue for me and something I’m really passionate about,” says Rhiannon, Internal Coordinator. “This year we’re trying to take a larger food justice approach. We’ve always been focused on that, but this year we’re hoping to advocate and spread awareness even more.”
There are a number of ways to get involved with DUGS. The society hosts weekly garden parties where both students and the public can come and garden. The society creates a list of objectives for each week with jobs ranging from building new structures to harvesting the crops.
“Whoever is here gets to take home what’s ready that day. So if there’s a ton of vegetables, you’re going home with a ton of vegetables,” says Rhiannon.
Both Landon and Zoe emphasize the casual and communal nature of the group, calling their volunteering format very organic.
“It’s not the kind of volunteering where you have to sign up for a certain day and have a set number of hours. It’s more, come and go as you can. If you’re able to commit to a lot of hours one month, that’s amazing. If the month after you’re not able to, that doesn’t reflect on you in any way,” says Rhiannon.
This year DUGS has partnered with the Loaded Ladle by donating their student-farmed produce to the student-run kitchen.
“We’re trying our best to produce as much as we can for some of their fall servings so that they have nice fresh produce. It’s kind of a point of pride for some people to say that the food was grown right here on campus by students.” says Getz.
Rhiannon recalls one of her favorite gatherings by the society when a cherry tree that hadn’t been ready for harvest in weeks suddenly ripened all at once.
“We had one day where there were six or seven of us out here with a ladder and we were just filling up mason jars with all of the cherries.”
The two coordinators hope that more students take advantage of the space this year, as a place to garden, a place to study or just a place to find some peace on Dalhousie’s busy campus.