A little garden with a lot of heart

Langside Learning Garden, photo supplied

A table at The University of Winnipeg is strewn with dozens of seed samples in the anticipation of spring’s arrival. Planners and gardeners of the new Langside Learning Garden (LLG) are preparing for an exciting growing season. 

Located at 373 Langside Street, the garden is a collaborative and community-based project led by an interdisciplinary team at UWinnipeg and the Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA).

During the summer of 2017, the existing house located at the site, considered beyond repair, was removed to make space for the garden, and community consultations began. This spring, work on the garden begins with a planned blessing of the land and bonfire on Thursday, March 28 at 4:30 pm.

The results of the community consultation noted several themes which will set the foundations for the garden. They include the need for biodiversity to incorporate Manitoba plants, Indigenous medicines, pollinator plants, and harvestable plants, such as fruit, vegetables, and herbs. The garden also needs to be low maintenance and a safe and accessible space that considers visibility and lighting in the design.

LLG wants to grow the garden using the wisdom of the community. Another important goal of the LLG project is to connect the University with the Spence neighbourhood community through education and action, and develop an engagement plan that can serve as a template for future community-university collaborations and partnerships.

“Our team will track the relationship over five years, employing a methodology that examines closeness, equity, and integrity at each step in the development of the garden and the programming,” said UWinnipeg’s Dr. Judith Harris, Associate Professor of urban and inner-city studies and serves on the LLG committee. “We will draw on the past experience of faculty and community. Establishing procedures for good working relationships takes time.”

Through continued consultations, the LLG team will develop sustainable urban gardening practices that demonstrate principles of food security, local food production, and community building. The LLG will involve students from across disciplines in community engagement and community-based research.

The garden will also provide opportunities for experiential learning, community classrooms, and active participation through workshops and social activities like the upcoming bonfire. The LLG will also be a space that embraces land-based decolonizing and reconciliation efforts.

“This little space will have a big place in the community,” said Dr. Trimbee, UWinnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor. “This is a real community garden, using wisdom from the neighbourhood to create a home to thousands of species big and small.”

The LLG team includes four UWinnipeg faculty members: Dr. Lee Anne Block (education), Dr. Alan Diduck (environmental studies and sciences), Dr. Judith Harris (urban and inner-city studies), and Dr. Rafael Otfinowski (biology). Representing SNA are Executive Director Jamil Mahmood and Greening Coordinator Olivia Michalczuk. A UWinnipeg graduate, Nik Friesen-Hughes is the project coordinator; and UWinnipeg environmental studies and sciences students Sean Goldstone, Chantal Ramraj and education student Shawna Peloquin  have been the hard-working and committed research assistants.

“Food security, education, and green space maintenance mean so much to the community,” said Michalczuk. “We are excited about this partnership and greening opportunity for our neighbourhood.”

For information on the garden please contact: infolearninggarden@gmail.com

MEDIA CONTACT
Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7130, E: n.ibrahim@uwinnipeg.ca

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