The Indigenous Garden on the UTSC Campus Farm was initiated by Prof. Dani Kwan-Lafond (Sociology) in 2020, with community partner Isaac Crosby. Isaac is a knowledge keeper, gardener and Indigenous agriculture expert who is Black and Indigenous. He is the lead horticulturalist for the garden, managing the Three Sisters Garden and the medicine garden. The garden is open from early May to late October each year, and is part of the UTSC Campus Farm, under the Coordination of Béatrice Lego.
Events in the garden include visits to learn about Indigenous cultivation methods, Indigenous foods, food sovereignty – the right of communities to control how their food is produced, traded and consumed – or the social inequity of access to food. Hands-on activities include weeding, planting and watering, helping care for sema (traditional tobacco) and braiding sweetgrass. In 2022, over 30 groups visited the Indigenous garden during the summer season.
The Indigenous Garden offers Sociology students opportunities to engage in land-based, Indigenous and experiential learning. Each year, Prof. Kwan-Lafond and Isaac Crosby work with 3-4 work study students who help with garden maintenance, group facilitation, event hosting, and with documenting the work and activities taking place each season.
The Indigenous Garden also provides workshop and learning space for student groups, class visits, and for community members to engage in learning. Indigenous students and staff, volunteers, and faculty are often engaged in shared activities in this friendly, interdisciplinary space.