Autumn brings with it chillier winds and shorter days, but it also brings with it plenty of fresh produce. While farmers across the province have been busy harvesting their fields before temperatures dip below zero, students and staff at the University of Regina have also been busy with harvesting fresh vegetables from local campus gardens.
The U of R is home to three gardens which are part of an initiative started in 2011 called "Regina's Edible Campus". Wanting to raise awareness about urban agriculture, and sustainable, locally grown food sources, staff, students and faculty on campus began the Edible Campus initiative, and the project has been growing since.
Now in its second year, Regina's Edible Campus boasts three beautiful gardens in and around the university – the First Nations University Shared Garden, the French Institute's Le Potager, and the Regina Public Interest Research Group's The Green Patch.
Taneal Brucks works as The Green Patch garden coordinator. Throughout the summer, she said the garden has had flourishing produce, with volunteers harvesting many pounds of tomatoes, beans, peas, carrots, zucchini, corn, and even squash and pumpkins.
"This was a great harvest year, over all. We had an amazing zucchini crop, as most people did this year. [We harvested] over 300 pounds of zucchini alone," she said.
As part of an agreement between the campus gardens and Carmichael Outreach in Regina, two-thirds of the produce harvested this year went to Carmichael, while volunteers were able to split the last third amongst themselves.
"Harvest time is an opportunity to enjoy all of our hard work…It's an opportunity for us to share food with others, and to peak their interest in the value of gardening and how awesome it feels to grow your own food," Brucks said.
With all the positive feedback that the Edible Campus initiative has received this year, Brucks hopes that the project will continue to be a "bridge for the Regina community and campus to connect" around local food issues.
"Harvest time is an opportunity to enjoy all of our hard work…It's an opportunity for us to share food with others, and to peak their interest in the value of gardening and how awesome it feels to grow your own food." –Taneal Brucks
"There [were many] volunteers who have never gardened before and so it [was a] great chance for them to actually pick a tomato from a plant and deepen their connection to their food system," she explained.
With much of the produce in the garden harvested, and the autumn winds brining in the colder weather, Brucks suggests a favourite recipe and a word of advice to up and coming green thumbs, saying "[gardening] is a very rewarding experience, but keep in mind it is always an experiment. Don’t be afraid to just start with one pot of your favourite vegetable and see what happens. This year I started all my tomato plants from seed on my apartment window sill, and I am still amazed at how many tomatoes I have."
Mom's Zucchini Bread
Yield: 2 Loaves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.