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Concordia’s Loyola Campus gets greener thanks to a new student garden

The launch of the Sustainability Action Plan in 2020 leads to a unique collaboration
August 31, 2021
By Amy Sharaf

People kneeling and planting in an open garden outdoor area. Taylor Yeung: “I’m looking forward to seeing the space grow into a pollinator garden.” | All photos by Julian Haber

Concordia is getting greener and furthering its sustainability goals thanks to a new student-planned garden on Loyola Campus.

The launch of Concordia’s Sustainability Action Plan in 2020 led to a collaboration between students and faculty in the university’s Department of Biology along with Concordia’s Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management staff.

The garden is the first project of the Sustainability Living Lab, a program that aims to support community participation in the Sustainability Action Plan while increasing experiential learning opportunities for students.

Working in groups, students in Carly Ziter’s Ecology of Urban Environments (BIOL 398) class were invited to pitch a campus gardening project in line with the plan. The class selected the top three proposals in December, and the students worked together with campus staff to plan the final garden. Shovels finally hit the ground in July for the innovative green space.

“It’s important to me as an educator that students have the experience to really put into action the concepts they’re learning in the classroom,” says Ziter, assistant professor of biology in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“The students really went above and beyond my expectations for these projects, and I’m thrilled we were able to showcase their hard work on campus.”

Portraits of two smiling, young woman, with shorter dark hair and one with longer, reddish hair. From left: Carly Ziter, assistant professor of biology, and sustainability coordinator Cassandra Lamontagne.

‘Our input as students matters to Concordia’

Funding for the project came from WWF-Canada’s Go Wild School Grant. Students in Ziter’s class got to submit their ideas for how the grant money should be spent and WWF-Canada awarded $1,000 to the university in fall 2020.

Students submitted 12 proposals ranging from edible landscaping to wildlife habitat and then narrowed the list down to the top three through a vote. The final garden includes elements from multiple proposals as well as a collaboration with the Concordia Pollinators Initiative, a student group focused on supporting urban pollinators in Montreal and raising awareness about their importance in our food systems.

Third-year urban planning student Taylor Yeung conducted an independent study on native plants that benefit pollinators, and was on one of the teams whose proposal was selected. Her team set out to create an educational garden that had native and edible plants to hopefully inspire students to learn more about Canada’s edible flora.

A logo with a panda bear graphic and the words, "WWF - Living Planet@Campus" Concordia’s Office of Sustainability gratefully acknowledges the support of WWF-Canada.

Yeung says being involved with the initiative from the classroom through to planting enriched her learning experience.

“It was amazing to see our conceptual design idea become a reality — it definitely made me feel that our input as students matters to Concordia,” she says.

“It would be great to see more initiatives like this in the future. I’m looking forward to seeing the space grow into a luscious pollinator garden.”

The garden is located behind the Psychology Building and includes perennial plant species native to Quebec. The plants will return each year and bloom throughout the season, providing a burst of colour as well as food for pollinators from spring through autumn.

Cassandra Lamontagne, sustainability coordinator for Concordia’s Office of Sustainability, believes that, despite the work involved, this unique collaboration has benefited all parties involved and has fostered the experiential learning that the university is known for.

“This was the perfect project to kick off our Sustainability Living Lab program,” she says.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of these students and Professor Ziter, and the support from Facilities Management, we are now one step closer to meeting the goals of our Sustainability Action Plan.”

Learn more about Concordia’s Department of Biology and Sustainable Action Plan.




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