The many gardens of McGill

Faraday Farms, in front of the Otto Maass Chemistry Building, is the newest garden spreading roots in the downtown campus.
From left to right: Isabelle Beaulieu, Janine Mauzeroll, Emma Schougaard, Jeremy Dawkins, Lars Schougaard, Tomer Noyhouzer and Bill Odette, happily get their hands dirty while installing Faraday Farms, the most recent garden on McGill’s downtown campus.

McGill is a garden full of stately views, to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling. The latest garden, grandly entitled Faraday Farms has been installed just outside the Otto Maass Building, the fifteenth garden to take root on the downtown campus.

Faraday Farms is the labour of love of chemistry PhD candidates Bill Odette and Jeremy Dawkins and is named after Michael Faraday, an important figure in electrochemistry and electromagnetism.

“Beware! We are going to grow ghost peppers, along with habanero and jalapeño peppers,” says Odette, smiling and pointing to the fence between Otto Maass and the Pulp and Paper Building. “We are also thinking of Trinidad scorpions, the hottest of all.”

Odette and Dawkins took the initiative to make scientists healthier, and green up the surroundings.

“Not only do most of us care greatly for the environment, some of us dedicate our lives to saving it,” says Dawkins. “Along with Professor Mauzeroll, I do research on lithium ion batteries, known as Li-ion batteries, in collaboration with General Motors. Our colleague and fellow gardener Tomer works on filtering out pollutants from tap water.”

“I don’t drink or smoke, and I spend more time in the lab than I do at home,” says Tomer Noyhouzer. “I think it is a great idea to make the space greener, balancing the upheaval of all the construction going on campus by putting in delicious edible plants.”

Amelia Peres, Vision 2020 Administrator, McGill Office of Sustainability (MOOS), is the go-to person for information about setting up a garden. She says the gardening culture at McGill seems to be, ahem, growing.

“We recently had a garden meetup where we had most of the McGill garden organizers in one room, and people were geeking out hard on gardening stuff. Someone brought up the idea of growing edible mushrooms on campus, and the level of excitement we all expressed for fungus was almost hilarious.”

Here is a complete list of the gardens on the downtown campus:

  • Students Society of McGill University (SSMU) Garden, run by SSMU and the SSMU Daycare, located in the Brown building courtyard
  • Campus Crops, run by Campus Crops Student Club & École Collective , located behind McGill School of Environment (3534 University)
  • École Garden, also run by Campus Crops Student Club & École Collective, located in front and back of École Collective (3559 University)
  • Edible Campus Hives, run by Santropol Roulant on the Schulich Library Rooftop
  • Education Outdoor Eco-Learning, run by the Faculty of Education and the Department of Integrated Studies in Education, located between the Coach house and Duggan house (below des Pins, between McTavish and Peel)
  • Faraday Farms, run by the Department of Chemistry, located in front of Otto Maass
  • Giving Garden, run by the Office for Students with Disabilities, located in the Otto Maass courtyard
  • Medicinal Plant Garden, run by the Redpath Museum, located on the Burnside Terrace (south side)
  • Midnight Kitchen Gardens, run by Midnight Kitchen, located at the Burnside Terrace (east side)
  • Redpath Pollinator Garden, run by Redpath Museum, located near Redpath Museum (beside rock garden)
  • Robertson Herb and Scent Garden, the oldest of McGill’s gardens dating back to the 1960’s, run by Grounds, Facilities Management and Operations, now located near Davis House (3654 promenade Sir William Osler) with garden boxes shaped like leaves so the garden looks like a tree from above
  • Staff Gardens, run by McGill Office of Sustainability (MOOS), located on the Burnside Terrace (staircases)
  • The Secret Orchard, run by Grounds, located behind the Davis House Annex (3653 de la Montagne)
  • Thomson House Garden, run by Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS), located in the Thomson House Courtyard
  • Presbyterian College Garden, run by the Presbyterian College, located in the College Courtyard

For information about starting a McGill campus garden, contact Amelia Peres at the McGill Office of Sustainability