SAIT garden grows change

Have you ever experienced the sweet smell of fresh raspberries, or the thrill of watching tomatoes ripen in the sun?

With the debut of a fully-functioning garden on SAIT campus this year, two SAIT culinary instructors Andrew Hewson and Simon Dunn, hope to give the SAIT community’s taste buds exposure to the pleasure of fresh food.

Hewson, mastermind of the project and winner of this year’s Cadmus Foundation’s research grant, said it’s more than an opportunity to invest in a dynamic education for his students. The garden is a chance to involve the entire campus in something bigger than just a patch of carrots.

“So much of conventional agriculture is focused just on growing massive amounts of food that nutrition and taste is low, low, low on their priority list,” he said. “And for us, it’s the total opposite.”

Over 130 varieties of herbs, vegetables, fruits and legumes are growing in the garden next to the John Ware building. And with a clear passion for gardening and a parent-like love for their plants, Hewson and Dunn have enabled not only a re-education of future chefs, but a place for community on campus.

“Here’s conventional society growing huge amounts of food hundreds of miles away, bred for different things than taste and nutrition,” Hewson said. “Bringing (chefs and farmers) together to talk about food has huge impacts on health and well-being of people.”

His partner, Simon Dunn, is excited to see the spin-off effects of the garden.

“We’ve played a little bit of an advocate role in exposing students to conventional farmers,” Dunn said. “To be able to pick a carrot, wipe the dirt off, and eat it right there is something that is very important to a cook’s development. It’s a very emotional experience.”

Both chefs hope the exposure to this garden is enough to change people’s views on conventional eating.

“For some reason people think gardening is this mammoth amount of work. You just put seeds in the ground and that’s how it goes,” Hewson said.

“It’s unfortunate that food is such a political thing. We’re doing our part with our little garden, and exposing students so they can go out and make their own choices.”

Both chefs encourage students of all faculties to come down and enjoy their garden, learn about it, and participate.

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