Building community through plants

The Department of Biology’s 3rd annual Plant Giveaway takes place Wednesday, May 16 from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Visitors are limited to two plants each. Full event details here.

Plant Giveaway organizer Karina Kachur, centre, chats with student volunteers in the biology department’s greenhouse. (©UWinnipeg)

The intentions of the UWinnipeg biology department’s annual Plant Giveaway are on full display in the warm, sun-drenched greenhouse on the fifth floor of the Library. Plants are bringing people together.

“I thought this was a good way to get to know people and to be able to connect with different people who work in biology at the University,” said Katrina Wilcox, a second-year biology (Honours) student and Plant Giveaway volunteer. “Most of them are in my classes, but I never would have talked to them if it weren’t for this.”

Katrina Wilcox tends to seed trays for the Plant Giveaway. (©UWinnipeg)

This is the third year the department has grown a variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables to give away to the community in time for spring planting. Last year’s event brought would-be gardeners out in droves and the line to snag one of the 1,200 seedlings snaked from the Riddell Atrium out into Centennial Hall.

The event is the brainchild of UWinnipeg’s Dr. Judith Huebner who wanted to create a space on campus where students could actively learn about growing plants. Karina Kachur is a lab technician in the department and has been involved in organizing the event since the beginning.

“We want to provide our students with further opportunities to build transferrable skills, not only for their courses, but also as they move into jobs in the future,” Kachur said, adding that the time spent in the greenhouse also gives students a chance to destress in between classes.

Kachur’s passion for plants and gardening started during her undergrad when she worked in a production greenhouse growing tomatoes and cucumbers. Her prior experience managing large scale project has been helpful in creating a planting schedule ahead of the Giveaway. 

The group of volunteers — most of whom are female students from the biology and environmental studies and science departments — have been in the greenhouse almost daily since the end of March tending to the crops. 

“We have a really good group of students this year, they’re very dedicated,” Kachur said. “Working with a bunch of younger women in science is also very rewarding.”

In addition to learning how to grow a variety of plants from seed, the volunteers will get a chance to share their knowledge with the public at the Plant Giveaway on May 16. 

“They get to practice their communication skills and we get to help foster this sense of community with the people who live downtown,” Kachur said.

To ensure there are enough plants to go around, visitors will be limited to two plants each.

Event Details

When: Wednesday, May 16 at 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Where: Riddell Atrium, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue

Media Contact

Eva Wasney, E-Communications Officer, University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7129 E: e.wasney@uwinnipeg.ca 

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