Environmental change is a “big” issue, in the sense that it’s something too expansive for me as an individual to influence or change. It’s important, yes, but how is a single person supposed to influence this issue? Do the efforts of little each person really count?
With that in mind, I went with my Environmental Science in Montreal (SCI 155) class to the Concordia Greenhouse, a collectively run and consensus-based nonprofit organization. Their main goal is to promote sustainable horticulture and education through workshops, open exhibits, and a welcoming atmosphere created by the horticulture. They allow other groups to use their space for the purpose of displaying or experimenting with new techniques of growing, adding to the educational diversity it has. The greenhouse itself holds dedicated growing rooms or communal spaces, where more plants can grow in a less controlled environment. The dedicated rooms either held projects by the greenhouse or those who rented it out and growing rooms for specific plants. They are a promoter of the idea of urban agriculture, which is the idea that the urban landscape can work with sustainable growing methods to maximize the usefulness and value of space in cities through rooftop gardens and other urban agricultural solutions, such as smaller-scale greenhouses.
When I arrived, I was mostly surprised by how efficient and diverse the space was, and how this made the space even more appealing. It was less of a jungle and more of a garden on the walls. The architecture was pleasing to the eye and captured a good balance between functionality and form. The dedicated growing rooms were less aesthetically pleasing but more technically impressive. Most of the rooms are filled with the many different types of plants, with some of them being nutritionally beneficial and some of them being nice to look at. The best part about the greenhouse is that it’s not content to have its success stay contained. In one room, they were preparing saplings and seedlings for their monthly sale. While this is principally a way for them to recoup the costs of management, it does something else; it gives average people the chance to make an, albeit small, effort to make their lives more sustainable.
This directly led to me answering the first question of if my efforts mean anything in making the world better for future generations. The answer is still no, but only if I think about myself. The collective drops of effort of myself and those like the greenhouse can form into a river, pushing the world back to a state of sustainability and ecological balance. It also shows that it doesn’t take a mountain-moving level of effort to do so. If we can encourage more of this type of ecological change, more of these greenhouses or farms giving us the ability to change a small part of our lives toward sustainability instead of increased consumption.
Overall, I enjoyed my short visit to the Concordia Greenhouse. It was inviting and I enjoyed what they were trying to promote with their scale. I hope that in the future more of these organizations show up and promote more sustainable ways that average people can make an impact.