Hundreds pick up free plants grown by U of Winnipeg biology students

In a sunlit atrium at the University of Winnipeg's Riddell Hall, hundreds of Winnipeggers showed up Wednesday to pick up two free plants grown by biology students at the university.

Hot peppers, kale, cucumbers, sunflowers among 1,200 seedlings given away

Hundreds showed up to pick up free plants grown by University of Winnipeg students on Wednesday. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

Hundreds of plant lovers showed up Wednesday afternoon to pick up free plants expertly grown by University of Winnipeg biology students.

Inside the sunlit Riddell Hall at the university, members of the public lined up down the hall and around the side of the building to chose two plants to bring home.

It's the second year for the plant giveaway and organizer Karina Kachur said she's been blown away by the response.

"We're really just shocked at how the community has really come behind and really backed us," said Kachur, who works as a technician and an instructor at the school's biology department.

"People in Winnipeg really love free plants," she said with a laugh.

The seedling varieties were chosen based on their ability to grow well in either gardens or planters and the minimal care they require.

Each member of the public was allowed to take home two plants. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

"We had some tomatoes and kale, a bunch of different varieties of hot peppers, cucumbers, some herbs, as well as some flowering bedding plants," Kachur said.

While the event was open to the public, Kachur said she hopes it gave students and residents in downtown Winnipeg, who may not otherwise have access to a greenhouse or extra cash to afford plants, a chance to bring a little green into their lives.

The giveaway also helps bridge a gap between the school and downtown Winnipeg, and build relationships with community members, she said.

"I think that's particularly important for the University of Winnipeg because we are in this downtown location."

This year, the school gave out 1,200 plants — two for each person. Kachur estimates more than 600 people took part, though, because towards the end, attendees only walked away with one plant to stretch the supply.

Madison Meakin shows off the sunflower and cucumber plant she picked up at the giveaway. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

Madison Meakin, 22, took a sunflower and a cucumber plant. She plans to put both on her deck.

"I don't think I would have gotten these if it wasn't for this," she said.

Joan Schroeder and her husband walked away with four plants for their home. They plan to plant the runners in hanging baskets.

"I think it's a great idea. I was so surprised to see so many people who turned up for the plants," said Schroeder.

While the university students who grow the plants did not get graded on their work, Kachur said the event gives them a chance to put into practice the theories they learn in school.

"They did all the watering and the maintenance, so it's really a hands-on experience for them," she said.

"We want to give them a place to decompress and build a community with one another."

Organizer Karina Kachur said the giveaway is both a chance for students to get their hands dirty and for the public to benefit from having a university greenhouse in their neighbourhood. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Winnipeg. Before moving to Manitoba in 2015, she worked as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at