As Concordia students, we are lucky enough to have a variety of interesting and relaxing places to visit around both campuses. One particular spot that does not get enough recognition, however, is our very own Concordia Greenhouse, located on the 13th floor of the Henry F. Hall building. A lot of students may not be aware of the greenhouse’s presence as well as its multitude of events, volunteer sessions, and product sales throughout the year. Although there is a focus on Concordia students, the greenhouse is open to anyone who wishes to visit. So, with Montreal being so saturated with quirky spaces, what is driving the constant flow of students, who do know about it, up to the 13th floor?
“It’s a good atmosphere,” Sheena Swirlz, services coordinator for the greenhouse said. “It’s probably one of the sunniest spaces on campus to be studying.”
Due to the density of the plants in the greenhouse, the air quality is higher. Swirlz explained there is also a great community that gathers in the greenhouse, as it is a very relaxed and safe space. Apart from spaces to sit, there is a kitchenette for those who wish to bring a lunch. Along with the kitchenette are free samples of the herbal and medicinal teas that are home grown in the greenhouse. Swirlz is proud to offer teas, especially to the students, as they have anti-anxiety and relaxation properties. Something, she says, students are usually in need of. If all this still doesn’t interest you to visit, the greenhouse also continuously puts on special events and workshops for anyone to engage with.
Some of the special events include educational workshops, social events and volunteer sessions on Mondays and Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more focused volunteer work, there are different internships offered under the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability. Students can apply for these internships, which are offered every semester. If chosen, students are able to expand their knowledge of sustainability and agricultural efforts as they grow and harvest different kinds of plants and herbs. Furthermore, students are taught small business planning, ecological growing techniques, and information about food security.
More leisurely events include live music, houseplant sales, and seedling sales. The greenhouse also offers a variety of products like growing kits and guides on edible plants to buy in Montreal. Last Wednesday, the Concordia Greenhouse welcomed three musicians, Kah Sing, Devon Welsh and Best Fern. The usually quiet space was easily transformed into a fun and exciting environment that was, of course, open to all. The constant activities going on at the greenhouse makes it unique amongst all the other study spaces around town.
“People can come to buy our stuff, relax here, learn or get involved” explained Swirlz.
Currently open to anyone, the Concordia Greenhouse did not start off with such an open door policy. In fact, the Greenhouse’s history is rooted in research and experiments conducted specifically by the biology department. According to the Concordia Greenhouse’s website, when the Henry F. Hall Building, or rather the H building for short, opened in the 60s, a greenhouse was included on the 13th floor. Around a decade later, Loyola College and the Sir George Williams University merged to create what is now known as Concordia University. Both school’s biology departments were combined and used the lush space together. The greenhouse was used for research, teaching, and even received some contracts from Concordia for landscaping jobs.
After years of flourishing, Concordia, in 2002, made the announcement that they would be shutting the greenhouse down. The plan was to build the biology department a new greenhouse on the Loyola Campus in order for further research to be done alongside the other sciences. By the next year, the once prosperous space, had been practically deserted.
In 2004, two people from Sustainability Concordia came up with the idea to reopen the space. They began talks with Concordia in attempts to persuade the plan from demolition to transformation. After much back and forth, Concordia agreed and the Concordia Greenhouse Project was put into action. In 2006, after a lot of hard work, dedication, and preservation from everyone involved in the project, the Greenhouse was officially reopened for educational and research purposes. Two years later, the Greenhouse was officially reopened for public use. Compartments and spaces, such as the Atrium were rejuvenated, and are used for studying, catching up with friends, and can also be rented to groups who were looking for spaces to conduct meetings, projects, and presentations.
The greenhouse is one of 21 fee-levy, non-profit organizations at Concordia, that offer a variety of services to students. They are funded by us, the students, with 12 cents of every undergraduate credit, included in our tuitions, given to the greenhouse.
It truly is a shame many are unaware of the Greenhouse as it is not only a serene place to study, it is an enclosed area that has beautiful plants all year round. Do yourself a favour and go check out the Greenhouse. In our Montreal climate, the idea of being able to be around blooming nature throughout the seasons is not something that should go overlooked.
Check out the greenhouse’s social media for more information on upcoming events, workshops, and a constant stream of soul soothing fauna.
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