By Christine Roy
Last April, level three students of the horticulture industries program designed and planted an herb garden near Student Commons.
Ever since, students from the culinary arts program have had access to a fresh supply of herbs and a comfortable, green area.
“Everything here is either for decoration or garnish and is edible,” Janice Ife, an instructor in the horticulture industries program, told her students.
During class on Oct. 10, Ife and her students wandered the herb garden and discussed the plants found within it.
One brightly-coloured plant turned out being a grain and not an herb.
“It’s not a desert plant but it has a very low water need,” Ife explained while holding part of an amaranth plant. “Its common name is ‘love lies bleeding.’”
Amaranth is related to millet seed and Ife added that the World Health Organization is trying to encourage the growing of it in dry countries.
“Wheat takes a massive amount of irrigation,” Ife informed her students.
The garden was spread out over the small area, contained in raised plant beds, old horse troughs painted in Algonquin green, and in a spiral-shaped bed made with old bricks. Ife plans to have her students make another spiral-shaped bed over the summer.
Next year, she hopes to have a wheelchair-accessible plant bed.
While her students study the plants and design of the beds, Ife warns them that they won’t find any of the basil previously planted there in spring.
“I think the chefs probably went on a pesto binge,” she joked.
No basil can be found but there is plenty of lavender, cilantro and some very hot peppers. Celery plants are there as well and the horse troughs contain marigolds, still in bloom despite the cold weather.
“Marigolds are for pest control. A lot of bugs don’t like the smell,” Ife said.
Not only does the horticulture industries program provide fresh herbs for the culinary art students, but there is also a vegetable garden located near M building.
While the vegetables have already been harvested, they are also a supply for the culinary arts.
The planning of the vegetable garden varies every year. Often students will find tomatoes, beans, potatoes, celery and other common vegetables. One year, they tried planting corn but corn takes up a lot of space according to Ife.
“We tried growing peanuts last year but the creatures got most of it,” Ife stated. Next year, she hopes to plant red warty thing squash.
Yes, there is a squash actually named red warty thing.
While the cooperation between the two programs goes a long way, not all of the vegetables or herbs can be used at times. Some of the vegetables are sold at the horticulture industries’ store. What is not sold will go to the hospitality program and vegetables that can’t be used are donated to food banks.
“Nothing is wasted,” Ife stressed.