How do we achieve this?

Gardening at USask is a collaboration to foster a sustainable gardening community by:

Encouraging sustainable yard and gardening practices by:

    1. Offering no- or low-cost resources and educational opportunities to the public;
    2. Teaching about and building capacity for practices that are good for the garden and for the gardener; and
    3. Supporting people to take a holistic, systematic approach to gardening.

Providing sound knowledge and experience by:

    1. Demonstrating environmental best practices and research; and
    2. Incorporating multi-cultural gardening knowledge and practices; and
    3. Connecting successful gardeners, communities, and organizations across the Prairies and Nothern Canada.

Empowering people to build healthy relationships with people and nature by:

    1. Encouraging the creation of garden spaces that provide health benefits for individuals and community, including psychological, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being; and
    2. Maintaining hands-on, experiential learning sites both on campus and off, such as the Healthy Yards Demonstration Garden at the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Center Garden Patch


Volunteers drive our Healthy Yards programming and help our communities flourish.

The Healthy Yards group offers:

    • A pool of trained, willing Compost Coach volunteers that can go to public events. Active volunteers (volunteering at least 1 time per year) is about 30. Highly active volunteers (volunteering 3 or more times per year) is about 13. The Compost Coaches programming is run through the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council.

    • Public and Master Gardener volunteers and volunteer opportunities

    • Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre employees provide hands-on experience opportunities in their garden, drop in advice, and scheduled, free education on site at the Garden Patch.

Do you want to get involved in your community? Check out our volunteer page for opportunities in Saskatoon, around the province, and beyond. Do you need a volunteer? Let us know at We will circulate volunteer opportunities for all non-profit organizations. We will also circulate volunteer opportunities for private individuals if that individual is physically incapable of gardening. While we don't mow lawns, prune large trees or clean gutters, we will try to get you the help you need to do things like refreshing a perennial bed or pruning a small shrub. Many of our calls for assistance come from senior members of our society - having some extra help in the yard may be the extra help they need to stay independent in their own homes so you really do make a big difference in their lives!

Healthy Yards Initiative

The Healthy Yards Initiative is a partnership established in 2014 between the University of Saskatchewan, City of Saskatoon, Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Center Garden Patch, and the Saskatoon Waste Reduction Council Compost Coaches. In 2018, the Saskatoon Food Council and CHEP Good Food Inc. joined the team.

Healthy Yards are:

    • Good for the environment: Healthy yards mimics the patterns and relationships found in healthy, functioning ecosystems. They provide habitat for insects, birds, and wildlife.

    • Good for people: Healthy yards provide psychological, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. They create spaces that foster connection, reduce stress, improve concentration, encourage exercise, build skills, and provide beauty.

    • Meant for everyone: Healthy yards can be created and enjoyed by people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. They can be lower maintenance and affordable.


The Healthy Yards initiatives focus on:

    • Low-Water Gardening, including Rain Barrels and Mulch

    • Home Composting

    • Pesticide Free Yard Care

    • Growing Safe, Sustainable Food

    • Creating and Supporting Biodiversity

    • Tips for New Gardeners

    • Storm water Management, including Rain Gardens

    • Sustainable Lawn Care

    • Small Space Gardening

    • Boulevard Gardening


Through the Healthy Yards initiatives, we will encourage residents to help address a number of challenges that are currently impacting our environment and community by:

  • Addressing food insecurity by building their capacity to grow some of their own food.

  • Building and maintaining healthy soil through composting and chemical-free practices.

  • Reducing the rate and volume of waste sent to the landfill.

    • Composting food and yard waste keeps organic materials out of the landfill.

  • Adapting to climate change and mitigating the impacts of severe weather events.

    • Flooding: Landscapes with high amounts of organic matter (e.g. compost, mulch, vegetation) can absorb and slow down storm water better than impermeable surfaces, hardscaping, and compacted/unhealthy soils.

    • Drought: Landscapes with high amounts of organic matter better conserve and retain moisture in times of drought. Rain barrels allow the capture of rainwater for future use. These strategies reduce the demand for potable water, as well as decrease peak water demand during summer months, which reduces the strain on our river and on the Water Treatment Plant.  

    • Heat waves: Well-vegetated areas are cooler and offer safer environments for people during heat waves.

  • Conserving water by using rain water, low-water gardening techniques, and drought-tolerant plants.

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Composting at home prevents the need to collect, transport, and process materials at the landfill, which leads to a reduction in fuel and greenhouse gas emissions.

    • When organics (food and yard waste) slowly decompose in an airless environment in the landfill, they produce a greenhouse gas called methane. Keeping organics out of the landfill will prevent these GHGs from being produced in the first place.

    • Distributing potable water to homes is very energy intensive. Capturing rainwater and reducing outdoor water use reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Improving the quality and reducing the quantity of storm water runoff that is going into our river and waterways.

    • Pesticides and fertilizers go directly into Saskatoon’s water supply (groundwater and river). Preventing the use of pesticides and chemicals will improve the quality of our water, while landscapes with high amounts of organic matter and vegetation can reduce the quantity and increase the quality of the water running into the storm drains.

  • Improving access to ecological systems and spaces, both natural and naturalized.

    • Diverse landscapes, home composting, and healthy gardening practices provide habitat for important insects, wildlife and plant species.

    • Healthy, functioning ecosystems that have a high level of biodiversity are able to provide ecosystem services, such as pollination, improved water and air quality, carbon sequestration, pest management, flood and erosion control, soil creation, food and medicine, amongst others.


Through our initiatives, we hope to impact:

    • Potential gardeners

    • New gardeners

    • Experienced gardeners

    • First Nations and Metis

    • Newcomers

    • Community Gardeners