Oct. 13, 2021

SU Sustainability Grant brings community garden to UCalgary Spyhill campus

Two years in the making, project flourished this past spring
Spy Hill Community Garden
Spy Hill Community Garden Crystal Read

Do you need zucchini for one of your special fall dishes? The Spyhill campus community garden has you covered!Students, faculty and staff have been given the opportunity to make use of this garden thanks to the University of Calgary Students’ Union Sustainability Fund. 

“The Students’ Union Sustainability Fund granted us $6,500, and we thank them for making this possible,” says Nicole O’Brien, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM)’s Spyhill campus manager of operations.

The garden project was started two years ago but was temporarily put on hold due to COVID-19. Finally completed this spring, the project created an important sense of community and collaboration when it was needed most at the campus, which is located in Calgary’s far northwest. The campus has several facilities including UCVM’s Clinical Skills Building, Veterinary Science Research Station, and the High Density Library (HDL).

“The idea came about after RenewFest 2019 made its debut at the Spyhill campus. In discussions with the organizers, it was discovered that there was a garden on the main UCalgary campus, and we decided to build one here and include not only UCVM, but some of the staff from the HDL, so as to build more of a community on campus,” says O’Brien.

Crystal Read, a teaching support assistant at UCVM, was responsible for organizing the planting and watering schedule, and taking care of the gardens while she was on campus throughout the summer. She and other volunteers put in many hours of dedicated work to take the garden project from an idea into reality. “This collaboration has far exceeded my expectations,” says Read.

Working in the garden is very relaxing. The experience has been very enjoyable and everyone who has participated has been amazing … everyone is happy to be involved.

Greg Boorman, manager of UCVM’s Animal Support Unit, and Jim Carlsen, Necropsy Laboratory supervisor, are responsible for much of the incredible handwork that went into designing and constructing the above-ground planters. 

“I have a background in horticulture and landscape management, so I figured that I could probably put my few cents into this, and I helped mostly with the design and construction side of the garden,” says Boorman. 

Others brought their passion and knowledge of gardening to help turn the new amenity into something that can be enjoyed by everyone.

“It is nice to look out the window at something that is aesthetically beautiful,” says Read.

Most of the harvest has gone to those who have participated in the garden, but many have been willing to share. As winter approaches, the garden will be cleaned out and plans to replant will begin in the spring. Any students or staff interested in participating in the next season can reach out to O’Brien at nobrien@ucalgary.ca