Put on the green light
After four years of planning, the School of Hospitality and Tourism’s greenhouse project is planned to be completed by the end of the current semester.
The project, which was expected to be finished at the end of last year, faced delays due to a wait for municipal approval for its construction.
“[This] kind of technology… has given too many problems for the application and for the construction permits,” says SAIT professional cooking instructor Andrew Hewson.
Hewson has been working with SAIT green building technologies research associate David Silburn since 2009 to develop this project.
The project will enable culinary students to take full advantage of the garden all year, rather than in the summer, when the harvest season doesn’t last longer than two months.
Instructors are hoping to use the greenhouse to emphasize where ingredients come from.
The philosophy of awareness has increased in the last four years after the construction of Jackson’s Garden.
The garden includes cherries, plums, applies, berries, currants, beans, carrots and a number of other fruits and vegetables.
Hewson, who has been a SAIT instructor for over seven years, has seen a difference in the interest of the students before and after the beginning of the project.
Since the school started the garden project, cooking students coming to SAIT, “Have become more aware of the importance of local food,” he said. “It gives a new whole understanding about what local food really means,” said Hewson who explained that SAIT culinary students are more passionate about food, because they are able to foster a much deeper connection with it.
“The students can draw from that experience and translate it to the plate.”
Having the opportunity to experience local food working with the garden was one of the reasons first-year professional cooking student Jonathan Cummings decided to attend SAIT.
Cummings will be working this semester with Hewson in the maintenance and harvesting of the garden.
“It’s better for you – no pesticides, no steroids, no chemicals, and it tastes better,” said Cummings who believes that the experience changed his approach to ingredients.
“When you are cooking in the kitchen and you drop something you get an appreciation for what you are losing.”
The Spruce-It-Up Garden Centre donated plant and construction essentials while the remainder of Jackson’s Garden was paid for primarily through private donations, and fundraising. Most notably, a $100,000 donation from Willow Park Wines and Spirits.
Items from Jackson’s Garden can be purchased in the John Ware Marketplace.