NAIT’s culinary department feeding students through on-campus gardens 

by | Nov 15, 2022 | News

With rising costs of living, especially tuition fees for students, some NAIT staff and instructors are determined more than ever to help. After years of mulling over ideas and going back and forth, Perry Michetti, NAIT’s Culinary Department Manager, and his staff are set on growing food for students through on-campus gardens. 

“I’ve always felt that we should be growing food. And not just because I have a culinary background, but I just feel it’s the right thing to do…We explored many different options over the years and we’ve kind of landed on this one. It’s a small start, but it’s a quality start,” said Michetti.  

While the culinary department is in the early phases of the plan and need the backing of other campus groups first, some plants are already growing in Courtyard One of the U building, or what’s formally known as the Learning Resources Centre.  

From the project, Michetti envisions that slabs of concrete around campus will turn into flourishing edible gardens, where students and campus groups gather, learn about gardening and find support in their learning. 

“I’ve been a student many times and I understand that when you’re paying big tuition, costs of living and working part-time jobs, sometimes you end up not eating well, and I would rather have students being supplemented for a food bank and eating good healthy quality products,” he said.  

Students familiar with the project have already donated plants or expressed interest in discovering more about gardening. NAIT’s carpentry program has also contributed by making raised garden beds, built of hardy cedar, for the gardens. David Bland, a carpentry instructor, leads the project. “You know, we were asking for some really basic boxes and then they send these little blueprints and build them. They’re just gorgeous and perfectly done,” said Michetti. 

Between now and the next boxes being assembled, staff are deciding on what to grow next. However, the chef explains that aside from navigating policies and protocols, they are still discovering what grows and what lags in the beds.

“We really want our students to leave NAIT not just with a craft or diploma or parchment. We want them to leave with the understanding of embracing community, embracing volunteering and embracing what it takes to really build a quality community,” he said. 

Cover photo by Connor Hildebrant

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