About Heather Setka

I am a writer and journalist who lives in Calgary.

CGCG Tour of Jackson Henuset Memorial Culinary Garden

~ SAIT Campus    July 19, 2014


On Saturday July 19, 2014, a group of 22 Common Ground Community Gardeners, friends and family members visited the SAIT Memorial Garden (‘Jackson’s Garden’). Under sunny skies, we met up with our SAIT guide, head gardener Adam Weaver, who treated us to an informative tour of the garden, plus nearby beehives. Adam has a background in Urban Planning, and tends the garden in addition to other urban garden projects in Calgary.

Jackson’s Garden is primarily a teaching garden, and was created four years ago to complement the campus’ culinary program. It was designed by Sue Galliver, and includes a small circular brick centre court with trellised arbour and seating, from which beds spread outward in an irregular, organic pattern ending in stone-tiered herb beds. There is also a large outdoor pizza oven, a table, recycle bins, greenhouse, and automated sprinkler system. Fruit-bearing trees such as sea buckthorn rim the outer fence, with fruiting shrubs (saskatoon, currant, gooseberry, Evan’s cherry) scattered throughout the maze of vegetable plantings.


In keeping with SAIT’S Polytechnic commitment to innovative teaching and environmental sustainability, the garden is organic, so uses no fertilizers or pesticides. Over 200 varieties of plants are grown here, from an extensive kitchen herb collection, to staples like corn, peas, beans, onions, tomatoes and potatoes. Interspersed throughout are more unusual crops to whet the palate, and we were able to see what artichoke, chick peas, lovage, borage, stinging nettle, horseradish, cantaloupe, ‘sister plantings’ (of corn, squash, beans) and ‘affinity’ beds (which pair various herbs with white vs. red wines) look like. Plant labels painted by Grade 2 students add a touch of whimsy, and around the central court, there are two topiary-like Korean dwarf lilacs grafted onto crabapple stems.


The small polycarbonate window/wood frame greenhouse is a relatively new feature in Jackson’s Garden, and is an experimental design built by SAIT engineering students. It incorporates the use of biodiesel for heating, plus soap bubble insulation – both technologies that allow it to be utilized year-round.


Produce from the garden is used in SAIT’s programming, ranging from summer camp offerings for children learning to cook, to full-time student and apprenticeship courses. Adam jokes that on occasion, ‘chefs-to-be’ will run down to the garden, frantic to pick a particular herb or vegetable they need for a dish they are concocting during cooking class.

After answering our many questions, Adam led the group upstairs through an adjacent building to the rooftop to view an example of urban bee-keeping. SAIT currently has four honeybee colonies there, and the bees help pollinate Jackson’s Garden. Because the weather was mild, we were treated to an active display of foraging worker bees at the hive entranceways. From the roof, we also had a good view of Jackson’s Garden, plus SAIT’s new expansion garden. Adam hopes that this trend will continue and garden beds will spring up throughout other campus green spaces in the future.

Some of the tour members with Head Gardener, Adam Weaver (3rd from R.)
Photographs and text – Joan W.            


May 31 Planting Day and Mingle and Munch

Our planting day on May 31 was a great success and about 20 gardeners turned out to work in the herb bed, enjoy the delicious snacks, plant their gardens, mentor some of our new gardeners and soak up the sunshine!

Our taste buds were certainly treated that day. Thanks to D’Arcy for capably manning the BBQ and sharing his tarragon salmon, herb butters and marinated strawberries. Also, thanks to Nidhi for the wonderful Indian dish and salsa. Thanks also to Susan for the coffee and muffins and others who brought snacks.

Lisa’s sons were our official photographers and we hope to share these photos with you soon. We had a representative of the library foundation who was thrilled to see our community garden in action. Our garden continues to grow and has become a haven for many.

D’Arcy’s summation of the day says it all: “That was way too cool…everything just slipped into place. New people fell into the rhythm…strangers got gardening advice…best of all… the younger set were right in the middle of it! (our youngest chef & a new staff photographer) The youngest were trowelling & watering.

It was exactly what a community garden should be. Year three…we’ve established a standard & it just roll…well done.”



Mark July 19 on Your Calendars

Hello Gardeners,

On Saturday morning of July 19, the Social Team has arranged a special trip to SAIT to tour Jackson’s Garden which is a herb and veggie garden with 185 plant varieties. We will also see the new technology of a soap bubble, biodiesel-heated greenhouse and the beehives. Chef Andrew Hewson, a culinary instructor for the School of Hospitality and Tourism, will lead a tour that will take approximately 1 and 1/2 hours. It is free!

We are hoping for a good turnout from Common Ground gardeners. We will meet at our garden and carpool from there.

We would like to give Andrew a tentative head count so please email plots@cggs.ca if you are interested. You can find more information about Jackson’s Garden on Google.


Common Ground Garden Society

Thank You Letter To Calgary Public Library Foundation

Common Ground Community Garden Society
c/o Southwood Public Library
924 Southland Drive S.W.
Calgary, AB   T2W 0J9

May 20, 2014

Ms. Joan Inwood
Managing Director Operations
Calgary Public Library Foundation

Dear Joan,

Thank you very much for the foundation’s continued support of our community garden on the west side of the Southwood Library.   Encana’s ongoing financial contribution is important to our efforts at maintaining and perhaps expanding our “footprint”. At some point, we may consider the construction of 10 additional beds on the North West corner.

This is the beginning of what will be our third successful year of gardening and already several of the plots have been planted; our formal “planting day” is scheduled for Saturday, May 31, 2014. You are more than welcome to come by, meet some gardeners, and stay for coffee and snacks between 10:00 AM and noon.

Our major project this coming season is to provide a focal point for the large west-facing library windows which look out directly to the garden. It will be a combination of a table with two benches nicely sandwiched between two large planters filled with perennials and annuals. It will be a significant construction and we anticipate that this will be another attractive space that will encourage both community and library involvement. This will be a place for both relaxation and educational opportunities in the garden.

In April, we added compost to all the plots which will assist us in continuing to be able to harvest luxurious vegetable crops, herbs and flowers, some of which, last year, we were able to share with the Food Bank. This season, we hope to be able to share some of our excess with seniors in the community. During the summer, we will also be planting a small group of fruit-bearing bushes.

We want to recognize and thank the library for the outdoor space, use of the indoor meeting room, the insurance, the water supply and the support and leadership of the individuals at the Southwood Branch, particularly Miranda and Gerri. Thank you very much for this on-going opportunity.

Yours truly,
The Common Ground Community Garden Society