Orchard Tour at the Green & Gold Community Garden

The Green & Gold Community Garden has been in operation at the University of Alberta’s South Campus since 2009. Volunteer-run, the proceeds raised from the two acre farm go towards a not-for-profit organization that supports women in Rwanda. They grow about 50 different types of produce, with the availability posted on their website every week. Though I’d been to the garden early on and a few times over the years, I wasn’t aware that the farm was adjacent to a small orchard. At the end of July, Mack and I attended a free tour of the orchard to learn more about some of the fruits that can be grown in our climate.

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

Green & Gold Community Garden

The tour was led by Gabe Botar, who worked for the U of A as a horticulturalist for 30 years and initiated the orchard. Although he has since retired, he is now a mentor to the Green & Gold volunteers who have taken over the responsibility of caring for the orchard he developed over 25 years ago.

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

Gabe Botar

The hour long tour showcased the variety contained in the orchard. Some of the fruits we encountered are more commonly found around the city – apples, Evans cherries, saskatoons, goji berries – but some were unexpected, such as pears, grapes, apricots and butternut. The Green & Gold Garden sells the apricots collected from the trees, so it’s worth a visit if you’re wondering what they taste like!

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

In the orchard

It was clear Gabe was passionate about this subject, and could have easily extended the tour into the evening hours. And though he is officially retired, he’s still experimenting – his latest breeding project is miniature pears.

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour


I will admit that as a non-gardener, much of the technical information about grafting and root stocks sailed above my head, but it was still a neat experience to see different types of fruit that can thrive in Edmonton.

Green & Gold Community Garden Orchard Tour

Evans cherries

The Green & Gold Garden will be hosting three more tours in August, on August 15 (7-8pm), and August 19 & 26 (1-2pm). If you intend to go – plan to arrive early and pick up some produce before the tour begins.

Green & Gold Community Garden

My Mum pointed out an article in Thursday’s Journal about a very cool community garden at the University of Alberta farm.

Green & Gold Community Garden

Volunteer-run, the Green & Gold Community Garden sells their vegetables on a pay-what-you-can basis, with 100% of proceeds going directly to Tubahumurize, a non-profit organization based in Rwanda that “supports and empowers socially and economically marginalized women with counselling, life-skills coaching, health care education, and opportunities for sustainable income generating activities.”

Mack, my Mum and I drove out to the garden this afternoon, intent on picking up some vegetables for ourselves. At the garden, a volunteer explained that we would be matched with another volunteer who would help us harvest the vegetables of our choosing. We were encouraged to wander through the garden, but told to stick on the paths.

Harvesting lettuce

Corn will be coming along shortly


Though zucchini, tomatoes, turnips, beans, peas, corn, cucumbers have been planted, they either weren’t ready yet, or had been picked through for the day already. Swiss chard, leeks, beets and a variety of herbs were available, but we were happy with some beautiful red and green leaf lettuce and a handful of baby carrots.

My Mum and I with our vegetables

We paid $20 for the vegetables, knowing all the money would go to a good cause. What a fantastic idea – I hope this project continues next year!

The Green & Gold Community Garden open Tuesdays 7-9pm and Saturdays 1-3pm – check the website for directions.