Something good is growing at Trent. Something succulent and delicious, yet also educative and illuminating. Hidden amongst the crowds of students, orientation week activities, labs and lecture halls are luscious organic gardens filled with mouth-watering produce just waiting to be discovered.
You may or may not know that Trent has a rich history of involvement in campus-based sustainable agriculture projects and student-led food initiatives. Trent’s rooftop garden is a landmark project in this regard and has been a pioneer of campus, rooftop and urban agriculture movements across the country.
The scenic rooftop garden sitting on top of the environmental science complex is a site you don’t want to miss at Trent. Up the stairs to the third floor and through door B305.1, you will find yourself not in another seminar room, but in a picturesque garden bursting with fresh fall vegetables of all different shapes, sizes and colours. The rooftop is just one of two garden sites run by the Trent Vegetable Gardens (TVG), a student levy group at Trent University. The other garden site is a little bit more grounded – a half acre field located just north east of the DNA and life sciences building.
There are lots of good things growing in the Trent Vegetable Gardens, including vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, eggplants, garlic, greens, beans, broccoli, beets and so much more! The gardens take inspiration from organic, intensive, permaculture, and Indigenous agricultural methods, and strives to practice low-impact ecological agriculture. Part of our mission is to offer experiential learning opportunities and hands on gardening skills to students and community members so that everyone can participate in growing these good things too.
However, crops are not the only thing being grown in the Trent Vegetable Gardens. The gardens endeavour to cultivate a connection within the community to the source of their food and an exploration of food systems issues. Ever wanted to find out why that heirloom tomato from the farmers market tastes so much better than the one from the grocery store? Or how agroecological practices help sustain the environment and support heathy communities? What is this whole local food thing all about and why does it reduce our environmental footprint and support our regional economy? The TVG encourages you to engage with these questions and more.
Getting involved in the Trent Vegetable Gardens is also a great way to grow connections and a sense of involvement during your time at Trent. There are so many ways to get growing and take part in the gardens including coming out to a workshop or community work day, participating in a student research or service learning project, becoming a volunteer or simply stopping by to take a tour or lend a hand with the harvest. The TVG also manages a campus community garden with twenty individual plots available to students and community members wishing to experiment with growing their own food in a supportive environment.
You may in fact already be participating in the gardens without even knowing it. Have you ever eaten at or do you plan to eat at the Seasoned Spoon Café? Most of the food grown in the Trent Vegetable Gardens is destined for the Seasoned Spoon Kitchen and ultimately your plate. This partnership between the Spoon and the TVG represents a sustainable field-to-table food system providing students with access to campus-grown foods at affordable prices. Drop by the Seasoned Spoon anytime to taste the difference! The TVG eagerly welcomes anyone who is interesting in getting involved with this field-to-table food journey, so please, email us, follow us on social media, visit our website or drop by the gardens for a visit.