If you haven’t already heard, the country (and the world) is coming out of a recession.
Stop right there.
Take a deep breath. In and then out again.
You don’t need to have passed the dreaded ECO100 to understand where I’m going with this.
I’m steering you in the opposite direction now.
Vegetables – the kind your grandmother hides in tomato sauce so you get nutrients to grow up tall and strong. Regardless of how you digest them, vegetables are known to be good for you, and they might just help a lot of people out of a tight squeeze.
About 7 years ago, my grandfather moved from Montreal to Toronto into a condominium with considerably less workable land than he had back in Quebec. He used to grow all sorts of vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers, etc. By growing these vegetables, he saved lots of money and beat having to buy the genetically-altered mutant carrots (of your local Metro) that are being produced. Although he no longer had his land, he passed on his knowledge to me and showed me how I could turn a small section of my backyard into a small profit. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be – it just took a little bit of patience, a little bit of sunshine, and a little bit of love.
I won’t lie to you though – it wasn’t always love. With a changing environment, there are more insects that affect our GTA climate. Fighting off aphids, potato bugs, and other flying pests make it a hate relationship. Eventually my summer consisted of an ongoing battle. One for all, I was a modern day Napoleon… only I had a watering hose and shiny shovel. Eventually the battle was won, but not without a couple of lost soldiers. By the end of my first summer I had a year’s supply of cucumbers, beans to last the winter, tomatoes to die for, and a strong sense of accomplishment.
I realize that not everyone has the same amount of land that I have, which brings me back to my grandfather. Living in a condo restricts just about everything that one can do when it comes to homegrown gardening. But for people who are willing to put in the effort, there are options. An interesting thing I found out about U of T is that we have our very own rooftop gardens, which is something we should brag about. The U of T Sky Garden is one of the most productive, helping to feed students at U of T and around the community. This is a great initiative taken by our university, and it just goes to show that in a changing time, urban living can combine with environmental sustainability and economic stability.
The Sky Garden is run by dozens of volunteers who help with weeding, watering, and planting. They also help to make a lunch possible every Thursday at the U of T International Student Centre, brought to students by Hot Yam, a U of T student-run vegan café. The Garden is on top of the Galbraith Building and is always looking for room to expand. The project is perfect for engineers, whom the program is in association with. Engineers can participate in building the many cold frames, assisting in design work, and researching to help improve the quality and productivity of the program.
However, the Sky Garden Program isn’t just good for engineers, but is g00d for any person from any discipline at U of T. It incorporates so many different aspects of our beautiful campus and institution. Anyone can volunteer to help out, and it’s great fun for anyone with a passion for gardening like myself. It just goes to show that U of T is not as exclusive as people make it out to be. People from many different backgrounds, nationalities, programs, and interests can come together to do something so great. It’s just another testimony to the greatness of our school.
I’m not telling everyone to go out and make their very own rooftop garden, but at least try and grow some fresh basil in a high window with lots of sun, or go to a local community garden and get your hands dirty.
There are lots of options for you to make a difference – you just have to be willing to make the change.